Somewhere waayyy back in the mists of time, when I was a young child, I got the idea that "the right answer is always out there - you just need to look hard enough."
The right answer is always out there - you just need to look hard enough.
I don't think anyone ever specifically told me this. It was just something I came to believe and something that became deeply ingrained in my psyche, probably because as a child in school, I was good at finding the right answer.
Of course, there are a number of problems with this belief.
First - it assumes there’s always a "right answer" to every problem. While this may be true in elementary school, it doesn't really apply much to life beyond that.
Second - it creates a vicious trap, whereby any success is seen a proof of strong intellect, hard work, good imagination, etc.
The painful flip side is that any result that isn't ideal is directly due to a failure. It may be a failure of intellect. A failure to work hard enough. A failure of imagination. Or other such failures.
Third - when things aren't working out as hoped, the belief and the trap quickly leads to overthinking and analysis-paralysis, both of which are incredibly counterproductive.
Do you recognize any of this belief or behaviours in your own life? Keep reading.
I have an incredible view from my apartment and my balcony. (Click on the panoramic photo I took of a sunrise.) I can see the St. Laurent river, the south shore, and mountains of Quebec's eastern townships. Believe it or not, I can also see mountains in the states of Vermont, New York and New Hampshire.
I love my view and have oriented my desk so that I can look out at it any time I wish. I never get tired of watching thunderstorms and it amazes me to see weather rolling in from the east. But the longer I've lived here, the more I've realized that the view is constantly changing.
For instance, those mountains I mentioned... how well I can see them depends on a wide range of factors: moisture in the air, smog, dust, fog, clouds, rain, the position of the sun, shadows, and a number of other things. Things that are 100% ... out of my control!
When this realization hit me recently, I felt like I was beginning to take off an incredibly heavy backpack I didn't even realize I’d been carrying all these years.
Sometimes, when I can't find the answers I'm looking for, it's because of things that are 100% out of my control! It has nothing to do with intellect, hard work, imagination, or anything else I can affect. I can't see the answer simply because, at this moment, the answer cannot be seen.
Now I have a new practice. When I start to stress about not being able to see the answer, I look out the window and remind myself that the weather and conditions are constantly shifting and trust that I'll be able to see more clearly in no time at all!