"You have no problems, though you think you have . . . " ~ A Course in Miracles
Problems exist only in the mind and are a prime example of how language determines our reality. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a problem as "something that is difficult to deal with." Conversely, it defines a challenge as "a demanding task or situation" and an opportunity as "a favourable time for achieving something for advance."
Nothing in your life can be objectively defined as either a "problem" or an "opportunity": the choice is subjective; that is, it is based entirely on the perspective of the person with the issue. That adage that "what you focus on expands" is a verifiable universal truth. Here's an example:
One summer I worked in a bus factory to save cash for university. These buses had been marked or marred and sent to our warehouse for repair. I worked at the end of the assembly line, with a team that was responsible for finishing touches like small paint jobs and interior repairs. So I circled each bus wearing five-pound safety boots and stained jean coveralls, with an Exacto knife and masking tape in hand, looking for a scratches and dents to be fixed. Once found, I got down to the grunt work of masking off, filling, and sanding the spot before sending the bus down the line. This was a 10-hours-a-day, five-days-a-week job.
Weekends were a reprieve from the 50 hours of drudgery, a time to hit the gym and forget about the coming Monday--when it would start all over again. Strangely, though, it wasn’t the escape I was counting on. During leg extensions, I was magnetized by dents in the equipment. My brain zeroed in on scuffs on the treadmill monitor and went through the imaginary process of doing touchups. When I left the gym even my beautiful car—a previously perfect and dent-free symbol of freedom—had become a sad example of a poor paint job.
Had the fitness equipment aged overnight? Was my car vandalized in the parking lot? I think not. What, then, had changed?
When you view life through a lens of problems that need fixing you will always find an infinite number of “dents,” “scratches,” and other imperfections. If, however, you see obstacles as opportunities for growth, then:
1) Your worldview will shift in a way that awakens you to solutions.
2) You'll step out of the quagmire of self-pity and into the high energy of optimism and empowerment; and
3) You’ll realize you are stronger, smarter, and more resilient than you’d imagined.
If you find yourself bombarded by issues, tackling one problem after another, take a moment and check your glasses. Perhaps it’s the lens that needs cleaning.