Bigger, Better , More Interesting Problems

thankaIs there anything more dangerous than getting up in the morning and having nothing to worry about, no problems to solve, no friction to heat you up? That state can be a threat to your health. If untreated, it incites and unconscious yearning for any old dumb trouble that might rouse some excitement.

Acquiring problems is a fundamental human need. It’s as crucial to your well-being as getting food, air, water, sleep, and love. You define yourself—indeed, you make yourself—through the addles you attract and solve. The most creative people on the planet are those who frame the biggest, hardest questions and then gather the resources necessary to find the answers.

Conventional wisdom implies that the best problems are those that place you under duress. There’s supposedly no gain without pain. Stress is allegedly an incomparable spur for calling on resources that have been previously unavailable or dormant. Nietzsche’s aphorism, “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger,” has achieved the status of an ultimate truth.

We half-agree. But it’s clear that stress also accompanies many mediocre problems that have little power to make us smarter. Pain frequently generates no gain. We’re all prone to become habituated, even addicted to nagging vexations that go on and on without rousing any of our sleeping genius.

There is, furthermore, another class of difficulty—let’s call it the delightful dilemma—that neither feeds on angst nor generates it. On the contrary, it’s fun and invigorating, and usually blooms when you’re feeling a profound sense of being at  home in the world…

Imagine  a life in which at least half of your quandaries match this profile. Act as if you’re most likely to attract useful problems when joy is your predominant state of mind. Consider the possibility that being in unsettling circumstances may shrink your capacity to dream up the riddles you need most; that maybe it’s hard to ask the best questions when you’re preoccupied fighting rearguard battles against boring or demeaning annoyances that have plagued you for many moons.

Prediction: As an aspiring lover of pronoia, you will have a growing knack for gravitating toward wilder, wetter, more interesting problems. More and more, you will be drawn to the kind of gain that doesn’t require pain. You’ll be so alive and awake that you’ll cheerfully push yourself out of your comfort zone in the direction of your personal frontier well before you’re forced to do so by divine kicks in the  ass.

In Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents danger, the other opportunity. There has been no English equivalent until now.
from Pronoia – by Robert Brezsny

Be Sociable, Share!




Posted by | Paul Reynolds
Paul has been a yoga teacher on the Island of Kauai for many years and is the facilitator of the weekly Living the Question Blog - a repository of wisdom and inspiration. Paul also produces and hosts Le Guru is You Radio Show, showcasing everyday gurus.

Comments are closed.