My granddaughter has a guinea pig. Recently I spent several minutes looking at and talking with her about the little creature. He has a very soft furry coat, a cute little nose, and he doesn’t mind if you hold him. He has quite a lovely cage with a variety of things to play with. He even has a little house he can go into when the stresses of life become so great he needs a place of escape.
“What does he do all day?” I asked her.
“I don’t think he does anything. He mostly just eats and sleeps.”
“Sounds like a pretty good life to me!” I said.
“Yeah, really,” she responded. “No homework.”
“The guinea pig has it all, doesn’t he?” I said. “Nice house, toys to play with and every day someone drops some lettuce on him and replaces his water bottle with fresh water.”
I thought about the variety of problems I face compared to the little furry creature in the cage. My problems are much greater than wondering when the next time someone will drop some fresh vegetables on my head. But do I want to spend my days alone in a glass cage surrounded by everything I need to survive? Do I want a life without problems?
Problems are what life is made up of. If we faced no problems and everyday our every need was provided for without calling forth any effort on our behalf why would we ever get out of bed? We would have no more use for living than that guinea pig. He sits in his nice little glass cage, is fed fresh food and water every day and cares nothing about shifting tectonic plates, nuclear proliferation, diminishing bank balances, or the increasing arthritis pain in my left knee. He has no problems and therefore no reason for existence.
Problems are not our problem; how we face them and what we do with them is.
The first and most important step to solving the problems we have is to realize that they are indeed OUR problems. We must come to terms with the fact that we are in the situation we are today because of decisions and actions we made yesterday. And wherever we will be tomorrow will be the direct result of the decisions and actions we make today.
Like you, I find it much easier to blame my mother, or the economy, or global warming for my situation, but blaming does not solve problems, it exacerbates them. As long as we spend our time blaming everything and everyone else for our problems, we dribble away the energy and resources we need to find solutions. Blaming focuses on the problem and those people and events we believe interacted to create our miserable plight. It does nothing to help us unearth a solution.
It is not easy to admit, “This is my problem. I created it, or at least I let it happen. Now I must find a solution.” Yet accepting responsibility for our problems moves us towards a solution; it directs the mind to find a way out, and our minds are incredibly good at solving problems.
Solution oriented people find ways to improve their predicament; they believe that tomorrow is bright because they are working today to resolve their problems. Problem oriented people find themselves deeper and deeper into their tribulations with no end in sight.
This leads me to the question you probably knew I would ask: Are you problem oriented or are you solution oriented? Either way you should be thankful you are not a guinea pig living comfortably in a glass cage with absolutely no problems and therefore, no real reason to live.