The Parable of the Problem Solver

Debbie Downer had always had a negative outlook on things. Her life wasn’t the way she wanted it. Things weren’t going the way she wanted it. People didn’t like her. She kept asking herself Why? Why was this happening to her? Why was her life so miserable?

Finally, she decided to see a doctor she had heard about for a while. Dr. Rhe Phrame who had patented a technique called Paradigm Shifting Technologies.

When she sat down and lay on the couch, and started explaining her problems, Dr. Phrame immediately took the glass of water in front of her and tossed it in her face.

Hey Doc, what is this? This isn’t the Ice Bucket Challenge!

The doc just smiled and told her to continue, saying, “I bet you don’t feel so miserable now!” and proceeded to ask her 5 questions.


Question 1: “What’s great about this?”

Debbie said, “Ummm, NOTHING… you just threw a bunch of water in my face!

The doctor chuckled and said, “Well, what COULD be great about this?

She thought for a moment and said, “Well, I don’t have to worry about drinking it…” She started to laugh, “and I don’t have to decide to wash my hair or not!”


Question 2: “What’s not perfect yet?”

“Well doc, my life isn’t perfect yet,” said Debbie, “but when you put it that way, it makes it sound like that it has the potential to be more perfect and all I have to do is just work at it.”


Question 3: “What are you going to do to make it the way I want it then?”

“Wow, good question, I never thought I had any say in changing. I always just let life happen to me, I didn’t know I could actively choose to make it happen the way I want things to happen…”

She paused.

“I’ve always wanted to travel and visit my cousin in Italy, maybe I’ll start saving for it instead of buying new clothes…”

“That’s a good start,” said Dr. Rhe Phrame, “Now make a list of 5 more things you want to do in the next year and your focus will start to make them happen.”


Question 4: “What are you willing to NO LONGER do in order to have things the way I want them?”

“Hmmm, I think I’m going to ask myself different questions when a problem arises or just in general,” said Debbie, “I’m not going to see the negative in situations but try to see things in a more hopeful and optimistic way. Maybe I’ll stop having a fixed mindset or a passive personality and see things as a challenge for growth!”

Then Debbie started really getting into it, “I’ve always wanted to start eating healthier and going to exercise! I’m going to start running tomorrow because I’ve always wanted to run a marathon!”

“Whoa whoa, let’s take it easy there,” said the doctor, “You can’t set your bar too high right off the bat, let’s ease into it and try building little micro-steps so you set a nice foundation for your habit to form!… For a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”


Question 5: “How can you do what’s necessary to get this job done AND enjoy the process?”

The doctor continued…

“It’s important to realize that life is a continual and never ending process of improvement and learning. You must make sure to ENJOY the journey instead of stressing about the end. Many of the people living over a hundred years know that the secret to living a long life is just not worrying.”

Debbie took a long look at the doctor and then at her hands and then at herself in the mirror.

With a big sigh, and tears welling up in her eyes, she said, “Thank you doctor, I think I know what I need to do.”

“Good.” said the doctor, “We all know what we need to do.”

“The most important step… is to START.”


Call to Action

Ask yourself these 5 questions whenever you encounter a problem. Your brain will come up with better solutions because you asked better questions.


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