Problem Solving: Solution vs. Insight/Realization

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By Peter and Helen Evans

Often we spend our lives looking for solutions to problems. We fix one problem and another pops up, demanding yet another solution. Solutions are quick-fixes and are indeed sometimes necessary. However, when we finally get an insight or realization into the deeper meaning of our problems; we're no longer on the problem/solution treadmill.

Let's say you're driving down the freeway and you run out of gas. Problem! Well, you've got to fill the tank with gas and you call the road service from your cell phone. That's a solution to a problem. However, if you have a realization that you should always check the gas gauge after your teenager uses the car; you've had an insight and can eliminate a lot of the problems and their "solutions" in your life. Even successfully coming up with a solution to the problem of running out of gas is time-consuming and frustrating; but insights and realizations guide us in ways that avoid the whole problem/solution scenario and are forever freeing.

Solutions may or may not work in a particular situation. Realizations are always true.

If it's raining, a solution might be to take an umbrella, but it's not always true that you have an umbrella handy. An insight might be that you have a choice to get wet or not. Your ability to choose is always true, and often that alone is a liberating insight.

The next time you are confronted with a problem, instead of first going into problem solving mode, can you look for an insight, rather than an immediate solution?