Minimalism and problem solving.
Even when you pare down your life to the essentials, and you dedicate yourself to only doing the things that matter most to you, life happens. Terrible things can happen when you least expect it, and all you can do is your best to eliminate the problem.
Treating problems with a minimalist mindset is one way that I have found to deal with unexpected unpleasantries. If someone can apply minimalism to the way their home looks or the way they live their life, why not try applying the same ideas to when a difficult situation comes up? After giving this idea some thought, I came up with a minimalist way to solve problems.
1. Define what the problem is and why you are so upset.
Often, this is the most difficult part of the whole process. Like acknowledging consumerism isn’t making you happy, figuring out what it is about the problem that is actually causing the issue can be hard to see. So why is it a problem? Try to acknowledge every potential angle of the problem. Sometimes, being emotional can cloud the clear thinking you need when solving a problem. If the problem is serious enough, it can trigger fight or flight, and that is what we have to avoid. The type of problem that takes enough time you can stop and really consider all of the implications and complications that can occur requires a rational mind, which could mean waiting until you are calm enough to kill your lizard brain. If you have a really difficult decision to make, consult Everett Bogue’s article on it here. OR just stop having problems ala Karol Gajda.
2. Analyze the problem.
How do we stop consumerism? We stop buying, and for an extra boost of resolve, we read Tammy Strobel. How do we fix a problem? We analyze it. What would the best possible outcome be in the situation? What is the worst possible scenario that could happen? Is your best possible scenario realistic? Could it be? There is a reason one particular outcome would be preferred, so define what it is that would make it so much more preferable to you. Is there any compromise that is more likely to get you your preferred outcome?
3. Outline the major things that need to happen to resolve the problem.
We know to stop consuming, it takes steps to finally get us there. Solving a problem is no different. Is there any compromise that is more likely to get you your preferred outcome? If the problem involves another person, what would be the maximum you would be willing to compromise, without compromising your values or safety, in order to solve the issue? Consider if potentially compromising could help you get what you want in the long run, instead of focusing on the instant gratification of being “right” or getting your way. However, if you have to just say no, get a pep talk on how to do it with Leo Babauta here.
4. Outline the microactions.
Just as taking microactions like decluttering or cleaning out a desk drawer can be empowering, taking baby steps to solve a problem is vital to making progress. Pinpoint a small step you can take right now for each one of your necessary steps. If you break it up and can accomplish little bits, you will feel more in control of the situation, and it will focus your energy towards reaching a solution to your problem.
5. Just do it.
Rooms do not declutter themselves. Problems do not solve themselves. Making plans does not it and of itself guarantee your success. You cannot control how other people act. You can control what you do. If you are not doing anything, don’t expect to see anything getting done.
I used this process to solve my own problem this week. This weekend, I had a very disturbing problem come up, and it left me very rattled and unsure of myself. I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to resolve the problem, but I didn’t, and now I am on a very brief timeline to make some important steps in solving this problem happen. Instead of allowing myself to panic, I stopped what I was doing used the method have laid out for you above.
I sat down, and a few deep breaths into it, I realized the problem wasn’t the end of the world. I had much more under control than I gave myself credit for, and I was ready to handle the situation in a reasonable, rational fashion.
You have the power to work the unexpected to your advantage, even when sometimes it may seem like a particular problem is going to be detrimental. The fact of the matter is many issues in our personal lives that cause us major stress will be forgotten by this time next year. If you can step back and treat a situation in a minimalist from a long term perspective, you will find you can handle it very easily.