This title is about our culture’s addiction to the illusory goal of creating a world without any problems.
The idea for this title comes from the very common “no problem” response from service providers when being thanked for doing tasks within the very scope of their service job. When thanking a service provider for their service, in most instances there was no “problem” you were asking them to solve. It frequently happens when you’re just thanking a service provider for doing their job, such as taking your food order in a restaurant and bringing your food.
If you were thanking them for handling or agreeing to handle a “problem” or to going beyond the normal parameters of their job, it would make more sense to respond with a good natured “No Problem,” but not when thanking someone for doing their job.
This may sound like a “cute” pet peeve. However, it is not really so cute. It is rather just one of the many symptoms of a very serious dysfunction of our culture: “the addiction to no problems” or “the addiction to comfort” (always being in one’s “comfort zone”, always feeling “comfortable”) or “the addiction to nothing ever going ‘wrong’ or even difficult”.
If one is truly “alive” in the present moment of his or her life, he/she will be faced with “problems” to solve constantly: “what to do now?” “how to respond to this person?” “how to handle this situation?” “do I do this task now or that task — which is more important?”
Some problems are more complicated and more difficult to solve than others, but a person fully engaged in life will be solving problems, big and small, simple and complex, all day long, every day.
Every time one is faced with a choice, one is faced with a “problem” to solve: which choice to make? which is the best choice to make? what will happen if I make the wrong choice? Every “choice point” in one’s life is a “problem point.”
Two very common strategies to “avoid problems” are:
- to become very rigid and live one’s life with a very tight “rule book” that one applies to oneself, to others and to all the situations that arise in one’s life (No “problem solving” with that strategy — all problems have been “pre-solved” with one’s rigid rules);
- to become very loose and open and spacious and “boundary-less”. There are no rules here, but neither are there any “problems,” nor are there any expectations of oneself or others and no accountability for one’s actions or responses to others and to life situations. Everything is O.K. (unless one gets overwhelmed).
Both strategies, of course, are on a continuum. The people on the farthest edge of each “no problem” strategy are considered “mentally ill”.
This book will be grounded in the “maximal complexity = equals mental health” teaching of Daniel Siegel and the “self-theories” research of Carol S. Dweck & colleagues, with Pat Allen’s “the worst thing you can do for yourself is to retire, because if you retire you stop solving problems.” It will also bring in Mariane Karou’s mind/body integration teachings. It will probably need to bring in the Deci/Ryan Self-Determination Theory “intrinsic motivation” piece too. And it will definitely need to bring in the “fear of not knowing” piece (the flip side of the “addiction to knowing” piece).