Celebrate the Problem

A Simple Trick For More Joy and Appreciation in Your Life


A simple trick to bringing more joy and appreciation in your life: celebrate what is commonly seen as a problem.

For example, the driver’s side door wouldn’t unlock in my high school car, so I got in the habit of opening the passenger door for friends. To this day, I get compliments from women when I open the car door for them (thankfully I live in Texas).

Or this year at Burning Man, my girlfriend and I unexpectedly had to use the community bikes—and there often was only one for the two of us. The first day or two I grumbled about not having bikes and even considered driving back into town to rent some. Then my perspective shifted. Everywhere we went people smiled at her riding on my handlebars, and the problem of only having one community bike between us became a joy.

Sometimes this is obvious. Rock climbers call the particular path of a climb a “problem;” and celebrate the challenge of its difficulty. When we watch movies and TV shows, we are inherently celebrate the drama. The fact that luxury brands are more expensive and often more fragile than their discount counterparts is both frustrating and part of their appeal.

Yet most of the time we automatically judge a problem and look for ways to fix it, whether it is someone else’s “problem” or our own. This is often the case, even when the person complaining to us does not want to be changed or fixed!

So the next time you find yourself listening to someone’s problem, or witnessing it, or experiencing one of your own, stop for a minute and see if there is anything to celebrate.

This is not really a reframing or re-storying technique, since the problem is still considered problematic: When I sold my car, I had to fix the door. Next time I go to Burning Man, we will have our own bikes. The climbing is still hard, and the movie still has conflict. Yet the very things that make these situations problematic are also worth celebrating.

The amazing thing is that when you are able to truly celebrate what is, it feels good. The problem does not have to resolve. You can feel joy and excitement and laughter even in the midst of annoyance.

Give it a shot. And if you cannot seem to do it, or even agree with this idea, celebrate it!

Thanks to Bryan Bayer and his Art of Circling book for inspiring this article.

Category: Style


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