No problems, only situations
What constitutes a problem?
I think most people are familiar the Jamaican outlook on life. All during our stay, the “no problem” philosophy was repeated. From the bus drivers and luggage porters, to the photographer at our wedding, to the servers and stewards in the restaurants, all the islanders repeated the “no problem” mantra. It was explained to me several times, that there were no problems, but only situations.
A situation sounds like just the facts or the circumstance at hand. It’s dispassionate, and seems descriptive of a rather small thing. Why do we worry? When does a situation become a problem? Because we judge it so. I reflected upon several occurrences during the trip where I was told my worries weren’t a problem, but only a situation.
For example: During the wedding, and the following photo shoot, I perspired heavily in the hot Jamaican sun, and the photographer would blot my face and head with a towel between pictures. I apologized for him having to do this. He said “no problem”. It was a problem to me. Why? Because I was embarrassed. Because I didn’t want to be seen this way, and I felt indebted to this fellow for having to blot my head with a towel. It wasn’t a problem for him – he had to do this for everyone. It was only a problem to me. I began to think about my circumstances for the last several months – the angst of the construction project. I had seen it as crisis – a huge end of the my world problem to solve. Those who followed my posts understand where I was. Really, it was just a set of circumstances, of tasks to complete. If the circumstances required, further negotiations and pursuit of alternatives would have been required. But they weren’t. So why did I worry? Why was it all such a big problem to me? Emotion – > Fear.
It seems that we are emotionally attached to so much in life, our expectations of how things should unfold, how we are seen and perceived – what we believe people think of us, and how we judge ourselves. If we could retrain ourselves not to do even those things, then we could be much more free. Unburdened of these self imposed constraints, suddenly we would have a lot more choices in how we could act in life, and perhaps we would be happier for it.
Large or small, how do you define a problem? Why is it a problem?