This week, more than ever, I am thankful for “good problems.” Being thankful for a problem may sound a bit odd. Why would anyone want to be thankful for struggle in their life? My philosophy is that having these problems are an indication of having a higher quality of life.
You only think about the spiders when you aren’t in the jaws of a shark.
This comes from a mix of life experience, my own personal faith which encourages a life of tribulation, and a few years of studying stoic philosophy. What I have learned from these experiences is that you can’t take everything at face value. A “good problem” may mean a hassle upfront, but it could also mean that your quality of life is higher than it has ever been.
A contrived platitude that every high school counselor likes to tell disgruntled teens is “don’t sweat the little stuff,” but that can be really hard when you don’t have any major problems. You only think about the spiders when you aren’t in the jaws of a shark. Maybe not a shark. I like sharks. I would probably just end up hugging it.
This month I am preparing for an upcoming move, and it is asinine. I am also impatiently waiting for my tattoo artist’s schedule to clear up so that we can continue on my quest to replace every inch of my skin with ink. Not to mention that I’m stupid bored when I’m not working on moving.
These are all really good problems to have. All of these problems are annoying on a smaller daily basis, but they imply an increase in my overall quality of life. First, tattoos are expensive. Anytime I can add quality work onto my body, I can’t help but be grateful that I have the disposable income to get that work done. As annoying as it is, waiting for this person to get back to me is a sign that I am pretty well-off financially.
As for moving, I am moving back to an area where family and friends are, and where I can pursue my graduate degree. Packing, selling, donating, and triple checking all of my Earthly possessions is the most stressful thing I have done for months, but I am doing this so that I can be in a better location and pursue something I believe to be a calling.
All of these problems in my life are just symptoms of a positive change.
Being bored while not working is both a blessing and curse. Having a moment of reprieve is great, but I do not feel like I am making forward progress on my goals. I have found ways around this by setting up micro goals to accomplish with this time. This problem, however, is not really a problem. It means I have completed what I set out to do previously and can rest before moving on to the next goal.
All of these problems in my life are just symptoms of a positive change. That is something to keep in mind when a new annoyance or problem enters your life. You have to see what the cause is and see how it will make you grow. Having problems with work is a great problem to have because it means you are working. As long as that job is not a dead end, you are progressing your life. You can always change direction later, but maintaining that forward momentum is necessary to carry through with any future changes.
A problem can also be a growth opportunity. Stoic philosopher Viktor Frankl said that
“what man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling of a goal worthy of him.”
Work can be hard, but it presents us with a goal. When we see that goal as being something worthwhile we will rise to the challenge. We will undergo changes and moments of growth to overcome the goal and be better off for it because we have grown past it. What was a challenge a day before will not be a challenge today.