Life is Problems. Living is Solving Problems

You choose your life by how you address the problems you face


Leon Purton

3 years ago | 6 min read

I was reading one of my favorite novel series, and one of the characters said the following;

Life is problems. Living is solving problems

It was Katala to her husband Pug when he was bemoaning the escape of a simpler life in the second of Raymond E. Feist’s Magician series, Silverthorn. Since I’ve had more time at home, I’ve been going back and reading some of my favorite fiction novels. It has been great. But nestled on the couch, I read this line and realized the truth of it.

Everyone is faced with problems. Successful people look for solutions and unsuccessful people look for causes and who to blame. But life is made in navigating through them, you must not remain stuck and stop living.

Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay
Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay


Small or large, you have your problems. We all do.

The most important realization is that everyone you meet, every single one, is dealing with something you know nothing about.

Some people carry their problems openly, promoting them to the world. Others internalize and carry them deeply, preferring to appear with a problem-free existence. But, do not associate that appearance of that with the truth.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine recently, she felt the pressure of having to manage her life with all the things going on at the moment, and she felt like she was failing. She fell into the comparison trap, where she reflected on all the people she knew who were handling it better than her.

I asked her if she had asked them about what they were struggling with? I asked her if she had asked them what they are most scared about? She had not.

I said, is there a chance that they are not breezing through life at the moment? That they are dealing with their problems in their own ways?

You see, it is easy to lose focus when you are stressed and dealing with mounting problems in your life. When your self-doubt is screaming you can’t handle the challenges being thrown at you, that you are not ‘good enough’ to manage it all.

You need to understand, the person next to you, the person who ‘has it all together’, is thinking the exact same thing. We all deal with that voice. All of us, all the time.

The key here is to not focus on the problem, but instead, focus on the controllable’s. The things in your life that you can control, and not the things out of your control.

Because some problems can’t be solved by attacking the problem, you have to influence it through something else. You have to find the problems levers. As Archimedes said;

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.

You can live more, by focussing on the levers, not the problems.

Image by Mircea Iancu from Pixabay


Life is problems. Living is solving problems.

Here is a story that resonates;

A father was engrossed in his work while his little daughter constantly distracted him in an attempt to make him play with her. To keep her busy, the man tore a page of a printed map of the world from a magazine into pieces and asked her to go to her room and put them together to make the map again. The daughter was very young and he was sure that she would take hours to get it done.
The father was surprised when he saw his little one coming out of the room with a smile and the perfect map within a few minutes. The stunned man asked his daughter how she could solve the puzzle so quickly.

“ Daddy, there is a woman’s face on the other side of the paper, When I made the face perfectly, I got the map right.”, replied the young girl.

This is an example of finding the right lever to solve your problem. Attacking this problem front on would have been very frustrating for the little girl, she has no point of reference for a world map. As Einstein famously said, “We cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used to create them”.

The same is true for us in life.

This is the power of looking outside of yourself for answers with those you know have your best interests at heart. You expose the problem to different thinking and experience. In that light, a refined shape to the problem is exposed, and new opportunities to apply levers are created.

As the older and wiser amongst us say — a problem shared is a problem halved.

Here are some tips for helping you live. To help you solve life's problems.

  1. Acknowledge the existence of the problem — you cannot address what you do not accept. I’ve personally fought this battle many times and without the acknowledgment of the problem and an exploration of my role in its causes, it is impossible to solve. The hardest thing you can do when faced with a problem is to spend the time defining it.
  2. Remove the need to be right — If you are faced with a problem, there is a chance that you are part of the problem. If you can remove your need to be right, you can attack the problem without tainting the possible solutions.
  3. Choose your words — with problems it is easy to focus on negatively charged words. If you reframe the problem statement with neutral or positive words, your mindset towards the problem will change, as will the potential solutions.
  4. Ask for help — the number one reason we don’t is our shame. We are afraid that sharing our problem will diminish other peoples opinion of us. It will reduce our facade of perfection. You need people in your life that you don’t need that mask to be around. That respect your vulnerability and courage in confronting the problem. Find them — love them.
  5. You are not the first — despite what you might think, you are not the first to be faced with this problem. Yes, your circumstances might be unique in some way, but others have faced it before you. Educate yourself on how they attacked it. Read about it in books and on the internet, find them in your circles. Or if you’re truly brave and the option is available to you, reach out to them.
  6. Stop causing problems — there are people that seem to thrive in telling everyone their problems. They prefer to have something to moan about. You’ve been around them before, they are constantly surrounded by drama and issue. These people attract this. By focussing so much of their energy on it, they create it around them. They are often in transmit mode all the time, and rarely truly listen to others. These people create their own problems more often than not. Get better at communicating (not talking, you need to listen) and never criticize, complain, or condemn others. See if your problems start to diminish.

There is something powerful is realizing you were presented with a problem and you were able to use the resources and skills available to you to find a way through them.

This feeling is life.

So do not bemoan the problems you are faced with, instead, look for the opportunity to grow as a person. The problems we face and overcome define us.

We are a more than a collection of past solved problems, but realizing that this is a part of our composition, a part of all the people we meet, makes you realize the power of understanding personal stories. It makes you realize the power of owning your own story.


Created by

Leon Purton

Inspired by life. Leadership, Growth, Personal Development. Engineer and Sports Enthusiast. Top Writer in Leadership.







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