In our life, we face a lot of problems. Personal problems, relationship problems, financial problems, and much more. What we want most is to get rid of these problems. To solve them, make them dissolve. Why? Because problems create tension, discomfort, pain, and all of which are in our way of happiness.
A blank page to most, it isn’t scary at all. To me it is. It’s the problem I face every day. 7 Days a week. To solve the riddle that’s called writing. To face a blank page, and come up with a compelling and enticing story. Which serves you, and helps you understand life. Each day I face the same problem. The problem of not knowing where to begin, where to go, or where to end. Which all three are the origin of all our problems.
With that ending in mind comes the problem of where to go, because how do we get to that end. And with the problem of where to go, comes the problem of where to begin. Because to go somewhere we need to have a beginning.
What do I mean by that? Where to begin, is the problem created by choice. Where to begin is a matter of choosing the right things. Choosing creates a lot of problems if we want to make choices that get us a specific outcome. Where to go, is the problem created by uncertainty and lack of purpose. It’s created from a fear of uncertainty, of losing control. As well as a lack of purpose in one’s life, or my case story. Where to end, is the problem created by results and achievement. Where to end are all the problems related to desire. The desire to have a lot of money is a question of where to end, it’s a desire, a goal, an ending in some form.
With that ending in mind comes the problem of where to go, because how do we get to that end. And with the problem of where to go, comes the problem of where to begin. Because to go somewhere we need to have a beginning. Writing a story, and facing that blank page is therefore not just a problem. It’s a problem that is similar to all other problems we face in life. This means to understand one problem in our lives, we can understand all problems in our lives. To understand the origin, the root, of our discomfort with life, is to understand the root of problems.
So let us begin on this journey to uncover the root of problems. With the first question.
1. Why are Things a Problems?
There are many problems, and although they all seem different and unique they all stem from the same source. Relationship. Now most of us just think of the relationship between ourselves and people. However, those aren’t all the relationships in our lives. With relationships, I mean everything you touch and come in contact with. Which for example can be your relationship with people, with life changes, with money, with products, with things. But also internal relationships. Our relationship with desire, fear, anger, joy, love, etc. These are the most important relationships.
Why is that? You might ask. That is because our internal relationships determine our external relationships. Let me give you an example of that. If you do not have a healthy relationship with your anger. Which means you do not have a good understanding of it, and a way of dealing with it. It means you are most likely to express that anger in many harmful and destructive ways. Like violence, verbal abuse, and so on.
Another example could be an unhealthy relationship with love (which isn’t actually love, but more desire). If you have an unhealthy relationship with love it turns into desire. You say you love someone, but what you actually mean to say is that you desire someone. That can result in possessiveness, obsessiveness, but also violence. If you truly loved someone there wouldn’t be any friction, you didn’t want to possess them, there wouldn’t be a single problem.
A problem is in its simplest form an unhealthy, unloving, or hateful relationship between things.
Because you see the answer to this question: why are things a problem? Is very simple, yet most of us don’t grasp its meaning, and therefore have no understanding of it. A problem is in its simplest form an unhealthy, unloving, or hateful relationship between things. However, you want to put it. This means that if there is an unloving relationship between two things there is friction, disturbance, violence. To clarify this let me give you an example. A big, and global example. The relationship between politicians and world leaders is very important to the problems of the world. If the world leaders do not have loving relationships it will create friction, disturbance, and eventually violence between them.
That unloving relationship will, on this scale, create wars. It’s what happened in World War Two. Where Hitler had an unloving relationship with most people, and most of all himself. That unloving relationship with himself manifested into an unloving relationship with most people, which then resulted in him becoming incredibly violent and destructive. Causing millions to die. Now that is a very big problem, but that very big problem found its origin in something we think off as a very small problem. Which is an unloving relationship with oneself. This leads me to the second question.
2. Why do you create misery in your life? (It’s not the problems that create misery)
Even though we think an unloving relationship with ourselves is a very small problem and is mostly disregarded or pushed away, it is the origin of all major world problems. So why do we create this misery in our life? Why do we have an unhealthy relationship with ourselves and therefore create problems? Because as the title suggests, it’s not the problem’s fault that you are miserable.
You see, if you do not have a loving relationship with yourself, internally, you will create violence in your outer life as well.
This is best explained with an example. Let’s say your relationship just ended. It ended in an unloving way, with a lot of fighting, shouting, and verbal abuse. The ending of that relationship created a lot of misery in your life, but why? Why did it create so much misery? Because it got violent, and it can only become violent if one is violent within himself. You see, if you do not have a loving relationship with yourself, internally, you will create violence in your outer life as well. And now you might say, “but what if the other person was violent towards me? What if my spouse abused me?”
Then still, however cruel this may sound too many, you have created that problem yourself. You have not created the abuse, that is the other person’s unloving relationship with himself manifesting into violence. Yet you have created the problem of going into a relationship with this person, and keeping up with it. Why is that? Because you do not have a loving relationship with yourself. You are probably degrading your self-worth, by thinking you are lesser than other people. Therefore you let yourself be dominated, or overruled.
It’s not the problems that create misery, it’s you who’s creating the problems and therefore your life becomes miserable.
This is not to say that you are to blame for someone else hurting you. This is a lesson for you. I am not trying to make you feel bad about yourself, or say that you deserved the abuse. You did not, that’s what I am trying to make you understand. I hope you can see that if you have an unloving relationship with yourself, if you have internal problems with yourself, you create misery in your own life. It’s not the problems that create misery, it’s you who’s creating the problems and therefore your life becomes miserable.
I know this sounds hard and cruel, but it’s the best way to put it. To be honest and straightforward with you, and not sweet coat things. That does not mean there’s no way to change this. But we’ll look into this later. Let’s first see if you really create your problems.
3. Do we create our problems, or are problems out of our control?
I don’t want to claim that you create your problems if I do not explain this to you. Let’s look into this together. Do we really create our problems, or are problems out of our control? In the introduction of this story, I shared with you how the blank page is scary to me, and it has become a problem to face each day. Now is this a problem that’s out of my control? Or am I creating this myself?
To look at this objectively we can see that the blank page is always there. If we want to write we always have to face a blank page. The blank page alone isn’t a problem, it’s the relationship between me and the blank page that creates the problem. I look at the blank page, and instead of just seeing a blank page I worry about what to write. I am scared that I won’t come up with a good piece of writing. This means that I am thinking, I am, internally, creating a problem out of just a blank page. For the only reason that I desire to write a great story.
I am creating the problem, instead of looking at the page objectively, seeing that it is blank, and thinking about a subject to write about, I add a third component, which creates the problem.
I am creating the problem, instead of looking at the page objectively, seeing that it is blank, and thinking about a subject to write about, I add a third component, which creates the problem. That component is desire. A desire, and need, to write a great article. If that desire and need to write something amazing and useful wouldn’t have been there, there wouldn’t be a problem. In other words, if my thoughts would have only concerned themselves with coming up with a topic, then there wouldn’t have been a problem. So to answer the question, we do create our problems, because instead of looking at things objectively, only observing them, we add perspective, desires, needs, and judgments onto them.
we do create our problems, because instead of looking at things objectively, only observing them, we add perspective, desires, needs, and judgments onto them.
But what if two people outside yourself create a problem, that affects your life. Take climate change for example. This is a big problem, not just created by you. It’s all of our responsibility to take care of the earth. Yet making a problem out of it won’t help. Yes, the world is slowly dying, but if you see this as a massive problem your mind will get clouded and unclear. That is because now it’s not just the world slowly dying and you being able to do something about it, but there is yet again a third component to it. Which is your fear, your fear of the world dying with you on it. Or your fear of being flooded by a rising sea level.
We always create problems ourselves, because instead of having two components we add an internal third. That creates friction, and thus the problem is created.
We always create problems ourselves, because instead of having two components we add an internal third. That creates friction, and thus the problem is created. If we would observe everything as it is, there wouldn’t be a problem. That doesn’t mean we can’t change anything, change is good, but making something a problem will only cloud your vision, and make solutions harder to find, or come up with.
4. Will problems ever go away? And if so, can we get rid of them?
We now know that we create our problems. This might be a bit of a downer, so let’s take that idea and turn it around, shall we. Let’s not make a problem, out of the idea that we create problems. Will problems ever go away? That’s the question most of you have I think. But it’s not actually about problems going away in themselves. You want to be able to control that don’t you? You want to get rid of problems yourself? So can we get rid of problems?
So can we get rid of problems? Isn’t that a problem in itself?
Isn’t that a problem in itself? Let me explain. If you are eating unhealthy, and your health is starting to decline. That’s a big ‘problem’. You want to get rid of that problem, and thus you create a new problem. The problem of how to get rid of the problem. The problem of finding a way to get rid of your unhealthy habits and become healthy again. Our desire, and need to get rid of a problem only creates an extra problem.
If you NEED to be healthy there is a certain pressure, which creates friction, which is inevitably gonna create another problem.
But does that mean we can never change a problem? Does that mean, that if we are unhealthy we should just be unhealthy and let ourselves die? Wow, that’s a grim thought. Let’s quickly set that right. It’s not. Us being unhealthy isn’t good for us. Yet the need to be healthy will only make the journey of becoming healthy harder. If you NEED to be healthy there is a certain pressure, which creates friction, which is inevitably gonna create another problem. The problem of you not being able to stick to your healthy routines or workouts.
Yet if we let go of that need to get rid of problems, and observe what’s unhealthy objectively, we will quickly realize how bad we’ve been treating ourselves. Instead of forcing ourselves to change, and become healthy, we see that we deserve better. That we aren’t lovingly treating ourselves. We do not see a problem then, we see an opportunity. An opportunity to create a loving relationship with our health. There it is again, the relationship I was talking about.
If we first cease the need to get rid of the problem, and then stop to see the initial problem as a problem we can be objective about what’s going on.
Getting rid of a problem in itself is a problem, because first there is the problem, and then you want to get rid of the problem which creates the second problem. Yet if we first cease the need to get rid of the problem, and then stop to see the initial problem as a problem we can be objective about what’s going on. And through objectively observing ourselves we will understand that we have been unloving to ourselves. We will then begin to change, naturally, and effortlessly. No one wants to treat themselves unlovingly if we are objectively looking at what’s going on.
5. How can we get rid of problems quickly?
It’s not a question of getting rid of problems, nor a question of getting rid of problems quickly. Rushing, or feeling the need to get rid of something, only creates unnecessary haziness. Getting rid of problems, as I explained, creates more problems as a result. So let’s ask that question differently, how can we understand our problems?
Through the process of understanding our problems, we will naturally find clarity and therefore solutions.
Because if we can understand our problems we can see that they aren’t problems at all. Through the process of understanding our problems, we will naturally find clarity and therefore solutions. So how can we understand our problems? There’s only one answer here. Through self-knowledge, which can only come forth from self-observance.
To ‘get rid’ of problems, we can only observe ourselves and understand the problems. But to observe means to not judge, or change something. If you observe a bird closely, you do not have the desire to change it, to get rid of it, or to judge it. You just observe it. See its feathers, its colors, and you observe how it moves and behaves. That’s observance. Seeing things as they are.
We can do so in many forms. Through meditation, journaling, writing, but all of these are just living. There is no need for formal practices, all we need is space to observe and be aware. At first, this can only come about through carving out time alone, in silence, and observe yourself. Yet as time progresses we need less of this time and can be aware of what’s happening at any moment. Then the time alone can serve as silence to recharge oneself. Therefore we can observe actively what’s going on in the moment. Observance of oneself, and our relationship with ourselves, but also with the external world is the way to understand our problems. Can this mean that we can stop the stream of problems entirely? Or are we bound to always have problems as humans?
6. How can we stop the ongoing stream of problems?
That’s the question we want to answer. If we can be free from problems. This is what enlightenment is, to be free from problems. To live completely free in this world. This means we are aware of our relationships with the world and do not create problems from them. There is a famous Chinese proverb that captures this perfectly.
Once upon a time, there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years.
One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit.“Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically, “you must be so sad.”
“We’ll see,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it two other wild horses.
“How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed! “Not only did your horse return, but you received two more. What great fortune you have!”
“We’ll see,” answered the farmer.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Now your son cannot help you with your farming,” they said. “What terrible luck you have!”
“We’ll see,” replied the old farmer.
The following week, military officials came to the village to conscript young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Such great news. You must be so happy!”
The man smiled to himself and said once again.
The farmer was enlightened. He didn’t create a problem out of any of the events happening in his life. He was closely aware of what happened and saw everything as it was. He understood that he didn’t know what was going to happen next. He didn’t know if something was good or bad. He just observed what happened, and dealt with it accordingly. In other words, he stopped creating problems for himself and just lived. That way he stopped the stream of problems arising in our everyday life. Can you do this too? You can just be aware, don’t make this a goal. Because making this a goal, to live a problem-free life, means you create a problem right away. That is, that you do not yet live that life.
Stopping this stream of problems can only be done right now. It’s not a goal, not something of the future. Not something life-changing. It just is. It comes forth through observance of our relationships with the world and everything in it.
7. What determines if your life will be filled with problems or not?
This is an important question because you probably want to know what will determine whether you will live a problem-free life or a life filled with problems. A friend of mine has this amazing saying. I first heard him say it when we were having a drink at a bar together with a group of friends. One of the friends asked him if it wasn’t a problem for him to cycle back and forth between his home and his girlfriend’s home. They lived quite far away from each other, so that’s why the friend asked him. He replied with the following quote:
“It’s only a problem when you make it a problem”
And that’s all there is to it. It’s not hard, it’s not life-altering advice. It’s simple advice. Given to me by a slightly drunken friend. Yet it carries everything you need to know. What determines if your life will be filled with problems or not, is up to you. It’s your choice. You choose your perspective on life, so you can determine if something is a problem or not.
The only way to alter your life that is still filled with problems is to observe. To simply observe. By simply I don’t mean simple. I mean without thought, without judgment, without any biases, or viewpoints. To simply observe things as they are without an internal dialogue commenting on it. Observe yourself, your thoughts, your life, the things you see as problems.
Observe yourself, your thoughts, your life, the things you see as problems.
Do that, and instead of creating problems, you’ll start to create clarity for yourself. With that come solutions, ways to change and alter things for the better. Ceasing to see problems doesn’t mean we let everything be, that we let the world die, or that we allow violence and abuse in the world. It means we don’t cloud our vision with the ideas of a problem. Through that clear view of the matter, we can see solutions, opportunities, and beauties. That will alter life for the better, that will lovingly alter life. That will alter life in a loving way for all of us. So that we all can end our day and say Today I Lived! I made the most of it.
If you want to discover this self-knowledge for yourself. If you want to transform your life and begin a journey on self-discovery. To learn how you can tap into your inner wisdom, and understand your life’s problems. So that you can feel more alive. Then I want to invite you to listen to the Just Now Podcast. The Just Now podcast is a place for you to be for a moment. To feel, experience, and understand what it means to be alive. The episode all give extra value to the articles I write through short guided meditations and reflective moments. Serving as a daily check-in to yourself.
I hope to speak to you there, for now, remember today you live! Make the most of it.