Focus on a Simple Solution

Posted on Apr 4, 2011

images-5There was recently an article in the New York Times magazine about the process of rumination and its possible evolutionary benefits.  Frankly, I find that for most people, rumination results in feeling of mental and emotional paralysis.  I try to be a solution-oriented person.  There is only so long I can listen to myself complain about a problem.  I reach a point where I must choose between acceptance and change.

However, change is hard.  The reality is that people don’t, won’t and can’t change until they are ready.   We don’t change until the status quo has become so dissatisfying or uncomfortable that we are compelled to do something about it.  Though we may not want to admit it, our “bad” habits are kind of like really comfortable old shoes.  We will wear them over and over; we may even wear them until they have holes in their soles.  We may even get them repaired just so we can continue wearing them because they are so comfortable.  It is only when the shoes become unwearable that we give them up.  In a similar way, we continue negative behaviors until they are unbearable, making holes in our souls.

To make a change, it is important avoid getting stuck ruminating about the problem.  Be specific and narrow about what the problem is and then use your energy to find the one simple change you could make that will give you the biggest ripple effect in you life.

Here is an example from my own life.  In trying for find that mythical balance between work and home life, I was feeling like I was always in a hurry.  I noticed I was constantly multitasking in the hope of “getting it all done.”  I even noticed I was driving faster and faster and had a few instances where I was surprised I was not pulled over for speeding.   I realized I was creating unnecessary stress and decided that I would make one simple change.  If I heard myself saying that I could squeeze in one more errand, task, phone call, etc., I was not allowed to do it.  Squeezing it in was squeezing the joy out of life.  I am happy to say that I feel much calmer and it all usually gets done at some point anyway, or it doesn’t.  But no task is worth my peace of mind.