All Life is Problem Solving

The anxiety we feel when faced with the challenges of everyday life is partly due to our inability to solve problems effectively. But if we take the time to find a quiet place where we can think about our difficulties in a reasonable and spiritual way, we will find practical and moral solutions. Even the most serious problems in life can be managed and remedied when considered from a spiritual perspective.

Problem-solving abilities are learned skills. Many of us were never taught critical thinking skills, either at home or at school. Exceptions might include science or math-oriented problems, skills that are helpful in some instances but do not necessarily supply the wisdom needed for solving life’s dilemmas.

All life is problem solving.

– Karl Popper

The Problem with Problems

The practical skills we acquire in life often arise in the course of our work, where we are faced with a myriad of technical and social problems to overcome. While our skills and experience are helpful to some degree, we may find them limited to specific areas.

For many, the real problems of life are those that arise with family, partners, friends, acquaintances, and social organizations. Some of the more serious include moral dilemmas, relationship troubles, difficulties with children, or money problems.

A religious life helps us to overcome these problems but, in a bit of a paradox, new difficulties often arise as we achieve an increasing sense of morality and duty, and this can lead to periods of frustration, uncertainty, and doubt. Moving forward from a material-based life to a more meaningful spirit-based life can be a difficult transition.

Realistically, we cannot expect our troubles to disappear. Things can always go wrong because, in addition to accidents and illness, we live on a world with imperfect people, some more so than others. And as long as people are cruel and selfish, or grasp at money and power, there will always be trouble.

We can, however, resolve many problems simply by changing our perspectives and principles. Emotions, such as anger, envy, and selfishness, are impediments to solving any predicament, but two of our worst enemies are fear and doubt. Fears and doubts inhibit our ability to seek a solution because the inner Spirit cannot penetrate a mind riddled with senseless fear or faithless doubt.

Set your mind at work to solve its problems; teach your intellect to work for you; refuse longer to be dominated by fear like an unthinking animal. 130:6.3

– The Urantia Book

We can counter our fears by being aware that fear is not a component of spiritual life and that, by entertaining or indulging fears, we effectively block out spiritual messages. It helps to bring fears into the open where we can examine them in a reasonable and balanced manner and from a loving perspective. And when we do so, we often find them unsubstantiated and pointless.

Doubt stems from a lack of faith, and whenever we lose faith in the good wisdom of our Spirit Guide, we deny the truth of the love, goodness, and beauty of God. The unwavering faith we need to succeed has nothing to do with the doctrines of organized religions. Instead, it is our personal faith in the spiritual forces that are always working to spiritualize and transform us (see Have Faith – But Faith in What?).

Faith never shuns the problem-solving duty of mortal living. 101:8.3

– The Urantia Book

Impatience is another impediment when attempting to solve difficulties. It doesn’t help to hurry through life or rush events. Take time to make plans and realize that plans take time to mature. God guides the universe along a path of progressive and balanced evolution in which the future is built on the foundation of the past.

Overcome your impatience by understanding the nature of change. Whether it is biological, mental, or spiritual, change takes time and progresses one step at a time. It is primarily an unconscious process best recognized and evaluated only in retrospect.

Teach yourself to rise above trivial episodes, base desires, and the selfish pursuits of daily life by viewing the world from an enlarged perspective; realize that God has a positive plan for your future and the future of the world. He has a greater purpose for you—if you so desire.

Finding the best solutions to problems requires changing the way we look at life, humanity, the cosmos, spirituality, and God. It requires an open mind receptive to spirit realities and new discoveries; it requires faith in the goodness and wisdom of God to guide us in the right direction; and it requires the recognition that we truly are privileged children of God, a privilege that entails our willful acceptance of the responsibilities and duties rooted in spiritual living and cosmic consciousness.

What Is Divine Problem Solving?

Divine problem solving is a method of finding practical and moral solutions through communion, which means sharing your difficulties, thoughts, desires, and aspirations with the Spirit of God within you. Problem solving works best when used with Divine Meditation – A Working Method.

The advantage of this technique is that you begin to see your problems more objectively by imagining how God and the angels would view them. It is looking at a problematic situation from a detached viewpoint and then evaluating it with spiritual values set within a cosmological context—the bigger picture.

The effectiveness of this technique is conditioned and limited only by your understanding of divine values and the nature of God (see God Consciousness). You can then use this understanding to visualize and create a divine persona, or presence, who is impartial, enlightened, idealistic, all-wise, and glorious. Imagine this persona offering you spiritual advice for your personal and moral difficulties (see Live in the Presence of God).

God and his assistants are always here to help you, but this doesn’t exempt you from acting. You are the one who must learn to think and organize your thoughts. It is up to you to learn how to focus your mind on a particular problem, to break it down to salient factors, to approach it from different angles, and finally to assess it. Spiritual forces are here to guide you and inspire you, but they can’t make the journey for you. It requires effort on your part, but it is always an honest and praiseworthy personal achievement.

Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.

– Winston Churchill

Divine problem solving makes use of the combined powers of prayer, worship, and reflective meditation. These tried and tested spiritual practices not only recharge your soul and transform you in spirit but are also extremely useful for finding practical solutions to everyday problems (see Spirit Contact).

Benefits of Divine Problem Solving

Divine problem solving works because it not only promotes wisdom and insight, but it also taps into spiritual energy. It will deepen your supreme purpose in life, helping you to adjust to constant changes in all life’s predicaments. It helps you to grow gracefully and to mature in spirit, and it makes you more aware of those things that are spiritually worthwhile.

Examining your problems using meditative techniques is relaxing and renewing. It brings about the moral and spiritual insights needed to motivate you, giving you the courage to deal with whatever life brings. Take heart that any form of communion will strengthen your growing conviction that you are a child of God. And knowing this is the beginning of wisdom.

Finding Solutions

As you begin, keep in mind that the best motivation is the desire for truth, no matter where it may lead you. Solving problems is not just about changing the course of life events, it is also about changing your frame of mind in order to develop beneficial, spiritual responses to everyday life (see Spiritual Habits for the Soul).

To solve problems effectively, it is best to be unselfish, believing, humble, sincere, and trustful. Free your mind from conceit, envy,  arrogance, and prejudice. Come to realize how these dispositions affect your problem-solving abilities. Can you ever hope to approach any truth if you are unwilling to let go of your biases and bigotries?

The solution of life problems requires courage and sincerity. 160:1.8

– The Urantia Book

Accept and believe that God has already given you all you need to approach him—a clear mind and a Divine Guide. Have the courage to face the realities of life and realize that you need to act. Instead of complaining about the present, regretting the past, or fearing the future, do something about it. But also recognize there are some things you cannot change, although you can always adapt.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

– Reinhold Niebuhr

Allow your inner Spirit to guide your decisions with love, truth, beauty, and goodness. Learn to evaluate every solution in light of these divine realities. When you live by these guiding principles, you soon begin to express wisdom, love, compassion, and service to others as well as yourself.

Whenever you approach people who play a central role in your particular problems, remember the ideal of all relationships is to treat others with the love, kindness, and consideration of a divinely motivated parent, no matter what the circumstances (see God Is a Divine Parent). And always have faith—believe that God will help you—because that is the truth.

The wise course in life is to act in consonance with the spirit of truth.

– Zoroaster

A Problem-Solving Method

Divine problem solving requires reason, logic, compassion, honesty, and spiritual insight. And it requires thinking things through while sticking to the spirit path. Many solutions come to light whenever we make an honest attempt to understand and evaluate problems or people. This means understanding ourselves, our motivations and desires, as well as the motivations and desires of others.

Being quick to find fault with others is not helpful. Whenever you consider all circumstances related to the problem at hand, you could discover that those you blame for your troubles may have had considerable difficulty and trouble in their lives. You have to ask whether their circumstances put them in an impossible situation. What were (or are) their true motivations for action? For ways to morally evaluate your actions, see A Moral Evaluation.

Solving problems is best approached as a meditative exercise. Try engaging and contemplating the nine-step process below. During the entire process, put yourself in the presence of God and your guardian angels. Visualizing a spiritual audience keeps you balanced, alert, and inspired!

A Nine-Step Process

  1. What’s the problem?
  2. What’s the real problem?
  3. How serious is the problem?
  4. Are you part of the problem?
  5. Can you accept unwanted solutions?
  6. Engage in divine meditation.
  7. Allow the Spirit to take you wherever it may lead.
  8. Forget your problem for three days.
  9. Re-evaluate the problem.

1. What’s the problem?

Begin by writing down your problem in one short paragraph. This is one of the best ways to clarify your thoughts. In your initial assessment, what is your desired, or ideal, solution to the problem? Why? What are some possible long-term consequences of this solution?

Consider the whole story behind the problem, such as any events leading up to the difficulty, the people involved and the roles they play, the people you think should be involved and the roles you think they should play in any solution to the problem. Can you control the roles of others? What role do you imagine for yourself in the solution to your dilemma?

2. What’s the real problem?

Take the problem you defined in Step 1 and narrow it down to the crux of the problem. Try to separate causes from effects. In other words, distinguish between the symptoms of the problem and the causes of the problem. Write it down.

For example, if your quandary is to solve poverty in your community, separate the consequences of poverty from the causes of poverty. Can you identify root causes?

3. How serious is the problem?

Is this a serious problem? Why? What dire consequences do you foresee if this difficulty is not resolved to your satisfaction? Is it a priority for living a good life?

You may feel, for instance, that your spouse or partner is not doing enough to support the household. Is this really the case? Or do you just see the situation from your own point of view and disregarding or discrediting the work of others? Is this something that can be openly discussed or are there underlying resentments relevant to a deeper problem?

4. Are you part of the problem?

To solve problems successfully, you must first acknowledge the possibility that you might be the fundamental problem. It is difficult to find lasting solutions if you believe everyone else is at fault. Do you have any biases that could affect the best solution to the problem? Do you harbor any prejudices, selfish desires, or engage in personality conflicts? What is your real motivation?

You may think your point of view is the only correct one, or that your actions are the only appropriate actions. We often adopt the ideals and lessons of our parents and peers without taking the time to critically assess these views, let alone the consequences of our actions.

Are your emotions in check? Do you entertain notions of revenge, greed, anger, envy, or lust? Are you being self-centered? Is your intent pure? Even if you know your actions are immoral, such as telling a lie to help others, do you still consider them justified? Why?

5. Can you accept unwanted solutions?

Can you come to terms with the truth? Are you ready to accept the best solution even though it may conflict with your initial assessment or desires? Many of us, once taking the wrong road, will persist even when we know it is wrong. Do you have the courage and sincerity to admit you were wrong, to accept the truth, and to change course?

Consider alternate solutions. How would you define or describe the best alternative? Take time to study how you evaluate any particular situation. What are your criteria for distinguishing between right and wrong? What values do you feel are being violated?

6. Engage in divine meditation.

Once you have considered your problem from these various perspectives, lay it all out before God and the angels. Think it through and pray for wisdom and insight to see the most effective solution, pray for the welfare of everyone involved, pray for all to receive spiritual insight, energy, and guidance.

Meditate on the long-term consequences of your decisions. How do you expect things to play out? Is your decision the best for all parties involved? Is it moral and spiritual? See also Divine Priorities.

7. Allow the Spirit to take you wherever it may lead.

Have faith in the wisdom and goodness of God and trust his Spirit to guide you. Adopt an attitude of worshipful contemplation and, afterwards, listen to your inner voice—feel the presence.

Avoid rushing through and making rash decisions. Be patient—have faith that a solution will present itself. This is not necessarily an overnight process. Even if you experience immediate calm, your deliberations could take some time. If a thought comes to mind or you feel divine inspiration, write it down before you forget it. Later, you can use it when you re-evaluate your main difficulty.

8. Forget your problem for three days.

After considering your problem, put it aside for about three days. Forget your difficulties and fretful thoughts for this period. Let your inner Spirit and superconscious mind do their work without interference. Take a few days to engage in some kind of enjoyable recreation, relaxation, or leisure activity that takes your mind completely off your problems.

9. Re-evaluate the problem.

Review and re-evaluate your difficulty. Go over the steps again to see if you have changed your thinking or opinions in any way. Commit yourself wholeheartedly to spiritual insight, reason, wisdom, peace, love, and truth. And have the courage to go wherever the Spirit may take you.

The greatest of all methods of problem solving I have learned from Jesus, your Master. I refer to that which he so consistently practices, and which he has so faithfully taught you, the isolation of worshipful meditation. 160:1.10

– Rodan of Alexandria

See Divine Meditation – A Working Method as a prelude to problem solving.