Sometimes we perceive that there is an problems, but in actually the issue was non-existent and it was just the figment of our imagination. We often worry and strain ourselves fruitlessly over the problems, which are not actually there. Rather we need to cross-verify things to make sure whether the problems exist or not. It’s all about our positive approach and attitude, which equip us to take things head-on in life. The examples given will substantiate above mentioned facts.
The bus was on its usual route. The driver and conductor were new to this route. At one bus stop, one big person entered the bus and said, “Big John will not take ticket”. Since that person was huge and the conductor was weak, he didn’t dare to confront that person. Next day again that person entered into the same bus and said, “Big John will not take ticket”. Again, the conductor couldn’t dare to ask him why he will not take the ticket. But it made him frustrated and so he decided to challenge the person. He joined the gym and worked hard there. In few months, he became strong and powerful.
Next time, when that person entered the bus and said, “Big John will not take ticket”, the conductor asked, “Why he will not take ticket?”. The big person said, “I have a pass!”
In the above example, you can see the conductor worked hard to solve the problem, which was not existed in first place. In our life, we do the same thing. We often try hard to open the door which was not locked at all. Just a push and the door will be opened. We often worry and strain ourselves fruitlessly over the problems, which are not actually there.
Let’s take another example. There is a couple in a house. The husband is engaged in his thoughts and not talking to his wife. The wife thinks, “why he is not talking to me?”. May be he no longer loves me or he may have another woman in his life and he is thinking about leaving me.
The husband actually thinks, “Rats! India again lost a 20-20 match today!”
That is the case every time, when we assume things without first searching the facts. We waste our precious time, use up already scarce resources and disturb our mental peace. We started assuming things, create answers of our questions ourselves and generate misunderstandings, which can lead to destruction of relations and families.
Problem solving is one of the most important skills. However, no matter how intelligent you are, you cannot solve the problem if there is none. This situation can be realised by following examples:
Different types of non-existent problems
1. Disappearance of actual problem: Sometimes a problem is actually present for some time, but in the course of time, the problem has disappeared and no longer exists. However, we still think the problem is there, which actually is not the case! See the following example:
A research scientist put a shark in a water tank. Then he introduced some small fishes in the water tank. The shark quickly attacked the small fishes and ate them. In the next step of experiment, the scientist again put some small fishes in the tank. But this time he put a glass panel between the shark and small fishes. Again shark attacked small fishes, but this time hit the glass panel. The shark kept on trying to attack the small fishes, but every time hit the glass wall.
After few futile attempts, the shark gave up attacking. Then the scientist removed the glass panel from the water tank. Now there is no barrier between shark and small fishes, but still shark didn’t attack the small fishes. This is because the shark believed that there is an obstacle between him and smaller fishes, while in reality there was none. Likewise, we continue to see the obstacle in our mind, even in reality, there is no actual barrier exists between us and our goals.
2. The actual problem becomes minor and ceased to become a problem: In another scenario, the problem exists actually and we cannot overcome it. However, after some time, the problem is still there, but it has become minor under new circumstances. However, we still believe that the problem is beyond our capacity and does not try to overcome the problem. See following example: A man saw an elephant was tied to a tree by a very ordinary rope. Compared to the strength of elephant, the rope was very weak. The man asks the trainer of elephant, “why the elephant not attempt to break the rope. The trainer said, “When he was very young and smaller, he was tied by the same size rope. At that time, it was sufficient to hold him, no matter how much he tried. He believed that he cannot break the rope. Now he has grown up and can break the rope easily. But he still believes he cannot break the rope and not attempt to set free.
3. The perspective is different and there is no actual problem: In some cases, the problem is seen due to perspectives of different persons. In a classroom, the teacher was teaching mathematics to little children. When the teacher asked little girl, “If I give you two apples and again two apples, then how many apples will you have in your bag? The girl said, “5 apples”. The teacher thought that the girl does not like the apples and hence did not understand the problem, so she asked, “If I give you two mangoes and again two mangoes, then how many mangoes will you have in your bag.? The girl said, “Four mangoes.” Then the teacher asked again, “If I give you two apples and again two apples, then how many apples will you have in your bag.? The girl said, “5 apples.” Irritated teacher asked the girl, “If 2 mangoes and 2 mangoes adds up to 4 mangoes, then how 2 apples and 2 apples adds up to 5 apples?”. The little girl said, “because I already have 1 apple in my bag! “
4. The problem is elsewhere: Frequently, the problem is not at the place where we are expecting it. A boy complained to his parents that he cannot see the writing on the blackboard at school. Fearing that there is some problem in the boy’s vision, the parents took him to the eye doctor for check up. The doctor thoroughly examined the eyes of the boy and found no problem in his vision. Finally, he asked the boy, “Why you cannot see the writing on the blackboard?” The boy said, “Because a tall boy sits in front of my bench!”
5. We do the things without reasoning: Sometimes we do the things without asking why these actions are needed. We do these things other people are doing them. See following example (not sure whether it actually happened, but it is interesting) :
A researcher kept a banana and a ladder in a cage. The banana was hanging from the top of the cage, but can be accessed by using the ladder. Then the researcher put 5 monkeys in the cage. One monkey saw the banana and trying to get it by climbing ladder. Just that time, the researcher sprayed very cold water on other 4 monkeys. Naturally, there was chaos in the cage and the climbing monkey falls down the ladder.
After some time, another monkey tried to get the banana. At the same time, the researcher sprayed cold water on other 4 monkeys. Again there was a chaos and the monkey cannot get the banana.
The research repeated the procedure many times and the monkeys learned that wheneverone of them try to get the banana, others will get cold water treatment. Now, whenever a monkey try to get banana, other monkeys beat him to avoid cold water treatment.
Now the researcher took a monkey out and put a new monkey inside the cage. The new monkey saw the banana and tried to get it. But other monkeys beat him due to fear of cold water treatment. The new monkey tried to get the banana many times, but other monkeys beat him every time. After some attempts, the new monkey did not try to get banana due to fear of beating by other monkeys.
After that the researcher took another monkey out and put a new monkey inside the cage. The new monkey saw the banana and tried to get it. But other monkeys beat him; 3 due to fear of cold water treatment and 1 because of others doing it. The newer monkey tried to get the banana many times, but other monkeys beat him every time. After some attempts, the newer monkey did not try to get banana due to fear of beating by other monkeys.
This happens every time, when a new monkey was introduced in the cage. One by one, the researcher took out old monkeys out of the cage and introduced new monkeys in the cage. But the result was same: New monkey tries to get the banana, others beat him, new monkey stopped the effort and joined in beating another monkey if he tries to get the banana.
At the end, all the monkeys which had received cold water treatment, were replaced by new monkeys in the cage. None of these monkeys were received cold water treatment, but still they beat the monkey who tried to get the banana.
In this case, the new monkeys don’t know why they are beating another monkey, but since other monkeys are doing it, they are also doing it. Remember mass hysteria about drinking milk by Ganesha idols in all India few years back. Hundreds of people were wasting milk on idols, though there are millions of hungry children in the country waiting for a drop of milk.
So the take home message is never try to solve the problem without confirming whether the problem actually exists. Discover what is the real problem is and where it lies. Even if the problem exists, don’t use a sword, when a needle can produce the same effect.
(Writer is Dr Vishwas B Chavan, Quality Manager, Spectrum Clinical Research Pvt. Ltd. The Views expressed are a personal opinion.)