Sometimes our biggest problems need just the smallest change in our perspective.

Last week, as I pulled into the garage from work, I walked into our house using the door that connects our kitchen to the garage. As I came in I heard a pretty loud squeak from the door. Like the kind you hear from a dozen or so mice be decapitated simultaneously, as part of some sort of mass rodent execution initiative enacted by Terminex. It was that bad.

I set my stuff down and went to oil the fire closure attached to the door. We’ve had problems with it before and usually spraying some WD40 on it usually does the trick.

I must have sprayed half the can on that thing and it didn’t do any good. After a while the door looked the Nesquick Bunny had been projectile crying YooHoo flavored tears all over the place. It was a mess.

Being the DIY genius I am not, it took me a while to realize what the problem was (besides taking a fire hose approach to trouble-shooting a squeaking door). The problem wasn’t the fire closure. It was the hinges.

After the Homer-sized “Doh!” stopped ringing in my ears I WD40ed the squeak right out of those hinges and realized. Later this important truth came to light:

A lot of times our problem solving isn’t actually problem solving. It’s more treating the symptoms without addressing what caused the real problem in the first place.

Last year when I tried to lose weight I thought all I had to do was stop eating so much. The problem with that was it didn’t address the issue of WHY I was eating so much. When I realized the why I was able to lose 65lbs and keep it off. How? By addressing the real problem, not just the surface issue.

Go deeper. Ask yourself what need your trying to meet by downing that bag of funyons. Pause and reflect what it is about that one guy at work you just can’t stand and allow yourself to see maybe it’s not him you hate so much as it is what he reminds you about you that you don’t like. Consider that maybe you don’t need a new job to be happy, just something fun to focus on at the one you’ve already got.

The next time you’re having a problem solving a problem make sure you’re addressing the root of the real problem and not the surface of a fake one.

It’s always harder, to be sure. But it is always work it.

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