03 December 2019

How positive thinking can help change your outlook on problem solving

When you are faced with a problem, what do you do? Do you sit down and get to work or do you catastrophize and think of all the ways that your idea could go wrong? You would be surprised at how many people think they are the former but turn out to be the latter! 

We are all vulnerable to our anxieties and we tend to prefer familiar options over new ideas. We are also trained from a young age to expect and remember the worst case scenario. This is a really helpful survival skill and it’s what makes you check both sides of the road before crossing, even when you’re on a one-way street. 

However, focusing on the negatives won’t get you very far. Life requires you to take some risks. So, instead of looking at all the reasons you can’t do something, you should get into the habit of positive problem solving.

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When you are faced with a problem, what do you do? Do you sit down and get to work or do you overthink all the ways that your idea could go wrong? You would be surprised at how many people think they are the former but turn out to be the latter, myself included!


We are all vulnerable to our anxieties and we tend to prefer familiar options over new ideas. We are also trained from a young age to expect and remember the worst case scenario. This is a really helpful survival skill and it’s what makes you check both sides of the road before crossing, even when you’re on a one-way street, hhowever, focusing on the negatives won’t always get you very far. Life requires you to take some risks. So, instead of looking at all the reasons you can’t do something, you should get into the habit of positive problem solving. 

If you want to burst through your self limiting beliefs, you have to open your mind. But the great part is that you don’t just need to open your own mind but to also accept that others may be able to help you. Rather than limit yourself because you can’t do something, you should expand your horizons by asking for help from those who can. The first step in learning something is realizing the power of your community - everyone can teach you something. I often end up googling something i don't know and teaching myself a bit about it so i understand the problem.


In business, the idea of outsourcing is really common and people hire SEO experts, HR managers and IT companies all the time. If you imagine your life in a similar way, you might find that you can outsource some of the problems you face.

Positive problem solving requires an optimistic outlook. Instead of focusing on all the reasons that you can’t do something, you need to look at all the ways you could make something possible. So, instead of saying, I could never run a marathon, say, I could start training and build up to running a marathon. I recently ran a 10k for charity without stopping when a at the start of the year i cold barely run 2k!


A major part of finding positive solutions is realising that most problems don’t have a single solution or a one-off fix-all. The vast majority of problems need a few small solutions that lead towards a larger problem. You might not be able to run a marathon but you could start by joining a running club, then building your stamina, trying a smaller race and then continuing your training. I found this worked amazingly well for me. A little bit at a time and slowly you will get there.


Having an optimistic mindset will really help here because optimists tend to take control of situations, whereas pessimists assume that there’s nothing they can do to make a bad situation better. By saying, “I can, because...”, you give yourself agency to find a solution that works for you. 


You don’t have to be good at everything and you might no be the luckiest person in the world but facing challenges and finding the positive solutions will make a huge difference to the way you view opportunities and take life by the horns. 

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