Minute #642: Problem Solving

At an early age, people begin the process of learning a vital skill for life’s challenges — problem-solving. Teachers use different techniques, including riddles, puzzles and math problems, to engage young minds in unraveling complex information into understandable bits that can be dealt with, leading to positive resolution. With time, practice and maturity, people learn how to succeed in problem-solving.

Frequently, individuals fail to overcome a difficulty not because they don’t know how to resolve the issue but, rather, they are unwilling to do what it takes to solve the problem. Approaching another may be embarrassing or unpleasant — even though that person may hold the keys to success. At other times, traveling or getting dirty may be enough to dissuade one from moving forward.

Harav Yechezkel Levenstein wrote a letter to an individual who was in dire need of money but was unwilling to ask others for financial assistance because he found “begging” unpleasant. The Rav said, “You wrote that you find it difficult to take financial assistance from others. That is truly the proper attitude to have. But your worrying and anxiety is an even greater problem. It is worthwhile to choose the smaller problem rather than the greater one.” (Or Yechezkel: Michtavim, p. 146)

It’s not uncommon for people to put off doing what they don’t like to do. When the unpleasant is an obstacle to solving a vital issue, they convert their inability to act into worry. Worry in such a situation is not the proper course. Willingness to do even that which one finds unpleasant can not only relieve worry, it can solve the problem. The best solution is to do what it takes — even if you find it distasteful.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

During the Ten Days of Repentance, G-d is much closer to us than at any other time. Our ability to remold our own lives, therefore, is far greater than at any other point during the year. This knowledge, although acting as a spur to moral improvement, actually casts a great responsibility on the individual… (Rabbi M. Miller, Yom Tov Shiurim, p. 74).