Great Relationships: How to Solve Problems and Have Fun Too

I recently came across this quote:

"There is a time in the life of every problem when it is big enough to notice and small enough to solve."

When problems come in our relationships they can bring a great deal of stress into our lives.

While problems do bring stress and are important to properly handle, our response to the problem is more important than the problem itself. How stressful a problem is can be determined to a large extent by our response to it.

Many of us have learned avoidance as a way of handling problems. "If I just ignore this, maybe it will go away" is what we think. If you hear an alarming noise in your car, just turn up the radio. No noise, no problem.

Richard Bach, author of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" and "Illusions," has this to say about problems: "There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. We seek problems because we need their gifts." What would it be like if, instead of avoiding problems, we were to lean into them and seek their gifts?

In order to lean into problems, we have to approach them in a different way. As Albert Einstein said, "You cannot solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created the problem." We need creative problem-solving skills that allow us to not only learn from the problem, but have fun and strengthen us as well.

Here are three creative ways to approach problems.

Movie solutions

Often the difficulty is that we have only our view of the problem with which to work. So what would it be like to get a variety of different perspectives on the solution to the problem? Here's a simple three-step process for getting a different perspective.

Hold a problem in your imagination for a moment.

Think of a favorite character or a movie you have seen that you strongly related to.

Ask the question, "How would this person have approached and solved this problem?"

You may get solutions from this exercise or only a different way to look at the problem. Either way is a win. Use your own judgment about the appropriateness of the solutions.

Question solutions

Motivational expert Tony Robbins offers us five questions for approaching problem-solving in a different way. They serve to help us reframe our approach to the problem. The five questions are:

What's good or great about this situation?

What's not perfect yet?

What am I willing to do to solve this problem?

What am I no longer willing to do to solve this problem?

What actions can I take that will help me solve the problem and enjoy the process?

Crazy solutions

Lastly, let's look at a process that I typically use to help parents solve power struggles with their teenagers. It's applicable for our purposes as well. Here are the six easy steps.

Identify the problem.

Identify one or two solutions that you have tried that just don't seem to work, and then discard them.

Come up with crazy, ridiculous, absurd, outlandish solutions that you would never do, but are absolutely fun to think about.

Come up with creative alternative solutions to the problem. Sometimes the seed for these creative ideas are in the crazy ideas. Other times you have simply been able to step back far enough from the problem to be creative.

Once you have your creative solutions, take massive action toward solving the problem.

Pay attention to the results you are getting. If it's working, you can keep doing it if necessary. If it's not working, repeat steps three to five until you get a solution that works.

What we have looked at are three simple approaches to creative problem-solving. Have fun trying them out in your own life.

For more tips and tools for a great relationship visit relationship coach Jeff Herring's SecretsofGreatRelationships.com

In The News:

How to Mend a Work Relationship  Harvard Business Review
What Playfulness Can Do for Your Relationship  Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley

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