Try this quick exercise:
- Sit quietly with a pen and paper.
- Set a timer for five minutes.
- List all the challenges, obstacles, or problems you are currently dealing with.
How many did you come up with? Was five minutes long enough for you to list them all? Norman Vincent Peale said, “Problems are to the mind what exercise is to the muscles; they toughen and make us strong.”
I recently had a problem with our 27-year-old gas range and oven: The oven stopped working, while the broiler and stove-top burners continued to operate fine.
We had a similar problem with it back in 2011. Luckily for me, I found a guy in San Antonio who rebuilds the electronic control board for our model. I disconnected it. Sent it to him. He did his thing and sent it back. I re-installed it, and—presto! So, I sent it to him again. But this time—NO presto!
Now what? A new slide-in range costs $1,500 or more. But wait! I searched for and found a Do-It-Yourself video, ordered a $70 burner ignitor, replaced it myself, and—Presto!
This problem was solved for a grand total of $150. But let’s be honest: in the grand scheme of life, an oven that refuses to light is not that big of a problem.
In fact, it wasn’t a problem at all, really. It was an inconvenience. But in our modern culture, they are one in the same. The truth is, we are all dealing with much more significant, much more serious, potentially life-altering problems by comparison.
And for some of these problems, what G.K. Chesterton said may ring true. When asked, “What’s wrong with the world today?” he is known to have responded simply: “I am.”
We are in fact—oftentimes—the biggest contributor to our own problems. We are our own worst enemy. Many of our problems have to do with our interactions with the people we encounter every day, as well as our thoughts and attitudes, that drive these interactions.
I have a responsibility to address the problems I contribute to. A lot of them have to do with my own thoughts, attitudes, and actions.
The solution may be forgetting myself and focusing on the other person who may just need some genuine love and appreciation. If I humble myself and engage the world—all my encounters with others—with that in mind, a lot of the problems I contend with might just go away.
Love and appreciation! Presto!
Written by Jim Gernetzke, business/life coach and founder of Nos Lumine