How to Choose Your Problems

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  Why would we want to choose problems?  Life can be so beautiful, why tarnish it?  It’s true that we can create a beautiful life.  The catch is that we’ll also create many problems.

Choosing our problems

We will always have problems.  Some of them will be completely unexpected, out of our control and due to luck.  Many of our problems, however, are outcomes of our decisions and actions.

We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them. ~Khalil Gibran

Making a choice, making a path

Our choices create paths in our lives.  From these paths flow our joys and sorrows.  If we make a different choice, we create a different path which, in turn, will bring us different joys and sorrows.

How do we know this?  Every time we look back and sigh with the 20/20 clarity of hindsight.  Here is where we can get tripped up:  we mistakenly believe that if we hadn’t made a particular choice, then we wouldn’t have problems.  It looks like this:  “If only I hadn’t done X, then I wouldn’t be slammed by Z.  If I weren’t slammed by Z, my life would be awesome!”

What is true is that we may not have that particular problem.  We would have a different problem, as in:  “If only I hadn’t done X, then I wouldn’t be slammed by Z.  I should have done A, then I’d have been slammed by C.”  Maybe a C-slam is better than a Z-slam.  It’s tempting to view it that way; however, it can be difficult to accurately gauge C without experiencing A.

Avoiding problem-slams

How about we make better decisions and avoid Z- and C-slams altogether?  That would be nice, but life doesn’t work that way.  The problem-slams cannot be avoided, not even by living as a shut-in.

This blows!  What kind of article is this, anyway?

I know and I’m sorry.  Don’t shoot the messenger.  Life is hard.  Life is full of problems.  These are universal truths.  Fighting universal truths is a waste of energy.  Better to focus on what we can do about it.  So, what can we do?

We can learn from everything and avoid the preventable problems.  This sounds easier than it is, of course.  If we can’t do that, then we can keep learning and not make the same mistakes twice.  Or three times.

Creating beauty in the midst of problems

The very best we can do is create a beautiful life in the midst of our problems.  That may sound like a contradiction.  How can life be beautiful when it’s full of problems?  It can because it has to.  The only people without problems are laughing at us from the graveyard.  Which brings us to:

Find what you love and let it kill you. ~Charles Bukowski

We can take this literally.  The thrill-seekers among us will immediately shift into warp speed.  Other gears are also available.  To enjoy the fullest potential for beauty in our lives we should find what we love and let it infuse everything.

Finding our loves

Finding our loves will bring us our greatest joys and sorrows.  Our joys will shine light onto our lives; our sorrows will give the depth of shadow.  The loves in our lives, in all their complex splendor, will balance out our problems.

If we’re wise, determined or lucky, the beauty of our lives will override all else.  When we ponder our lives it will look like this:  “If only I hadn’t done X, then I wouldn’t be slammed by Z.  But if I weren’t slammed by Z, I wouldn’t have experienced Y.  Wasn’t Y the most amazing thing ever?  My life is awesome because of Y!  So, there’s Z…but look at Y!”

Here’s looking at Y, Kid. ~Rick, in Casablanca (adapted)



21 thoughts on “How to Choose Your Problems

  1. aFrankAngle

    Humorist Erma Bombeck wrote a book … If Like is a Bowl of Cherries, Why Am I in the Pits? Well … like isn’t a bowl of cherries, but one’s outlook uses pits as reminders and even lead one to more cherries … well, if we let it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a catchy title! Thank you for your words of wisdom, Frank. I like your idea of using the cherry pits as reminders and even leading us to more cherries, Our outlook and willingness can change a lot, can’t they?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! It’s not easy to remember especially when we’re overwhelmed by a problem. I agree with you that a different path comes with its own set of problems. In addition to the benefits of the current path, there is a reason it was taken in the first place — even if that reason isn’t immediately clear to us. Thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You wrote the most wonderful line: If we’re wise, determined or lucky, the beauty of our lives will override all else.

    I think this may be especially true for those of us who survived real ugliness. Ultimately, regardless of what other people may have chosen for me, if we are lucky in resources and if we persevere, we can make our lives beautiful, and rich with meaning
    we can

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re absolutely right, Rob. We can experience life-altering events that are outside our control and have nothing to do with our choices. Real ugliness is so challenging to overcome. As we do, though, we enrich our lives as we become the individuals we want to be. John Geddes said it well: “Goodness is not the absence of evil — it’s the light that pushes back the darkness.”

      Those who persevere, push back and overcome evil know a quality of light that couldn’t be found otherwise. The most beautiful people in the world are those who are well-acquainted with the night, yet shine a resilient light.

      Thanks, always, Rob.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Which are the most pressing problems is what w need to choose.
    Then w can apply how/when w choose to deal w them.
    Th main problem at th mo is: where do I find th time to catch up w all your amazing Posts?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. vortithiryx

    Like they say; hindsight is 20/20. It’s always too easy to live in ‘what-ifs’… but we tend to romanticize the ‘might-have-beens’ too much to ever get a good view of where we are, and what would have happened otherwise.

    To follow any path is to know pain and to know joy. To try to avoid the former is as futile as chasing the wind. To live is to know happiness and to know sorrow. We will gain and we will sacrifice in whatsoever choices we make.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very wise words! Romanticizing ‘what-ifs’ is so easy and tempting for any of us. While that romanticism makes for some wonderful poetry, songs and art, it can overshadow our realities and cause us to miss some of our lives.

      It’s true that to follow any path is to know pain and to know joy. “To try to avoid the former is as futile as chasing the wind.” Your writing is lyrical.

      Thank you for sharing your insights. It’s also nice to see you 🙂


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