Great scientific minds have been attempting to solve problems for centuries. At times they have been successful, which has helped humanity move forward. At other times though they made mistakes. But instead of giving up, they took the time to learn from those failed experiments, which of course helped them gain valuable insights. They subsequently adapted their approach and made further breakthroughs. Scientists are certainly a persistent bunch. It could be said that they have a knack for the art of problem solving. If only we could solve our life problems in this way. Just imagine the possibilities.
1) LEARN ABOUT YOUR PROBLEM
In order to master the art of problem solving you need to thoroughly understand the nature of your problem. Before scientists even begin their experiments they learn everything they can about their problem. They want to understand their problem inside-out. Without a clear understanding of their problem they simply won’t know how to proceed or what kind of experiments to run. But it’s of course not enough to just understand the problem at hand. You must also get very clear as to why this is a problem in the first place. Furthermore, you must outline what value having this problem brings to your life.
2) QUESTION YOUR CHOICES AND METHODS
To successfully master the art of problem solving we need to understand the power of the choices we make. To a scientist, the results of every experiment come down to the choices that were made. Good choices lead to progress, while poor choices lead to further problems. Given this, a scientist clearly understands that they are the reason why they still have a problem on their hands. We therefore essentially become our problem. Our life problems exist because of the past choices that were made that led us to this moment. To now solve this problem, we need to make some better choices that can help us move forward in more optimal ways.
3) IDENTIFY PATTERNS AND RELATIONSHIPS
The art of problem solving requires deep thought and contemplation. It requires an awareness of our predicament and surroundings. Scientists do this by looking for patterns and relationships that can help them piece together different aspects of their problem. This subsequently provides them with deeper insights and understandings into the nature of their problem. And of course ideas soon evolve and help them move forward with their experiments. We too must look for patterns and for relationships between things. Patterns help us predict what will happen next, while relationships help us form new associations.
4) QUESTION YOUR ASSUMPTIONS
To master the art of problem solving requires being very vigilant of the assumptions we make. Scientists of course rarely have all the answers they need to solve their problem. They therefore make various assumptions about different aspects of their problem. If their assumptions are correct, then this helps them make progress with their experiments. On the other hand, if their assumptions are incorrect, this can very easily lead them astray. The same is of course true for us while attempting to solve our life problems. You either question the assumptions you make, or allow them to mislead you in the wrong direction.
5) POSE “WHAT IF” SCENARIOS
To gain most from the art of problem solving requires working with possibilities. Possibilities naturally evolve when you pose “what if” scenarios. Whenever a scientist reaches an impasse, they quickly search for possibilities that can help them move forward with their experiment. In such instances they start asking “what if” questions. What if I thought about this differently? What if this wasn’t a problem at all? What if this wasn’t part of the problem? What if I tried that instead? Asking these types of questions can help us to view our problem in a different light — allowing us to break through the boundaries of what’s possible.
6) BRAINSTORM HOW TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM
Mastering the art of problem solving requires a lot of experimentation. In fact, it requires a great deal of trial and error. And this is exactly how scientists operate. They test, measure and experiment. They understand that the more they know about what doesn’t work, the closer they are to a solution. It is said that Thomas Edison conducted over 10,000 experiments before he finally created a working light-bulb. Each failed experiment helped him learn and adapt his approach until he finally figured it out. And that’s how it is with life. Always brainstorm many ideas and run copious experiments. You will eventually hit the jackpot.
Committing yourself to the art of problem solving requires a great deal of patience, self-discipline, attention to detail, and perseverance. These are after all the qualities that make scientists so successful. They of course work copious hours behind the scenes, and yet we only hear about their successes. What we don’t hear about are all the failed attempts that led to that breakthrough.
Solving your life problems often follows the same sort of trajectory. You will make a lot of mistakes. You will then learn from those mistakes and adjust your approach accordingly. Then after a lot or patience, self-discipline, attention to detail, and perseverance, you will finally get your breakthrough. Others will say it was easy, but you will of course know better. The art of problem solving is never easy, which is why not a great many people will every master it.
Imagine for a moment you could develop new habits and methods of thinking where you naturally and effortlessly adopt these ideas into your life. How would that make you feel? Would you feel more fulfilled, empowered and in control?
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Learn More About this Topic
Want to know more about this topic? Here are some helpful links to articles that you may find of value:
- 7 Lessons Learned Spending Years Trying to Improve Every Aspect of my Life @ Business Insider
- Drawing Upon Your Own Life Experiments @ CNN
- How to Treat Life Like an Experiment @ The Art of Manliness
- Life is an Experiment: Improving Life Through Experimentation @ IQ Matrix
- Live Life as an Experiment @ Harvard Business Review