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  • Felipe Bernardo Theodoro

How my dad's teaching about money taught me how to solve problems



My dad used to say that I must not hold money too tight or too loose, but something in between.


He would demonstrate this analogy with his hand. "If you hold money too tight it is like closing a strong fist" he would say. "you are stingy with your money, you don't let it circulate to good causes and you don't invest in things that are important for you."


"If you hold money too loosely, it is like holding your hand completely open, spending mindlessly on any impulse to buy, without organization or planning for the future."


"It got to be like this, with your hand half open, so you keep some for yourself and give it to others as well, you let it circulate. Also, you don't become too attached to how much or how little you have."


While this is a simple but profound analogy for dealing with money, the picture of him holding his hand closed, open and half open, stick to my mind. It was only later in my life that I saw how relevante that picture reflects how our mind works and the best way to deal with problems, to find solutions and move forward in life.


I think we all want a way to deal with problems with more ease and effectiveness, don't we?

But I see people getting stuck in an issue all the time, running around wishing that if they just thought harder, that magical solution would land on their lap. I've also been there countless times too.


And here is the problem, it may not seem true, but thinking harder won't give us a fresh, new, useful solution. It just keeps us seeing more problems while our minds spin faster and faster in it's own mud.


You see, when we are thinking about how to deal with a certain situation, the scope of our minds can vary from being tightly closed, loosely open or something in between.


If we think about something with a tightly closed mind we are in that tunnel vision state, something like this: ˂


Often in this state we get raising amounts of stress and anxiety. We analyse, rehash, defend our positions and try to convince people of our view point.


Here, we can't see anything but a problem, we run around in circles, eventually hopelessly wishing very hard for things to work out. That's counter productive thinking, the best we get out of it is more of the same.


When the scope of our minds are loosely open, we are often in wonderland, an overly airy, distracted state. Something like this: ―


Here, good ideas and thoughts can come, but those can range between how to make a bubble with your gum to wondering how far a telescope has been outside of earth. It's not necessarily specific enough to find helpful solutions for what is right in front of you.


And then we have that sweet spot, when the scope of our minds are something like this: ∟

The counselor and psychologist George Pransky, Phd, describes this state as the solution mode. He says:


"[it] is quiet and efficient. We clear our minds instead of filling them with details. We reflect, look and listen. Suddenly, out of nowhere, we get an insight." - George Pransky

In my experience this state is very reflective and explorative. I am in this state when I am looking at a certain direction and waiting to see what comes to mind. I often ask myself a question such as "What are ways I can create this?" and just sit there for a while, reflecting on some of the ideas that my mind generates.


Most of the first ideas are not that great and fresh, they are based on the old and comfortable ways I thought before on how to do something. But if I just keep looking, giving myself permission to not know, eventually a fresh new idea comes.


Often those solutions are very obvious as well, something that was right in front of my eyes, but I couldn't see because of the amount of distracted, bogus or obsessed thinking in front of it.


It's important also to say that if nothing useful comes or if I start to think too hard, good. I come back later and take another fresh look in a clear mind. I repeat for as many times as necessary until a solution finds me.


I love this distinction, because it helps to see when I am just overly obsessed with a problem and when I am avoiding or neglecting it completely. It keeps me humble, knowing that if I just give myself permission to face a situation in the eye and allow myself to slow down and not know, with enough time a solution will come to the forefront of my mind.


To close, if you want a better way to find solutions for your problems, try for the next week to observe the scope of your mind as you look towards solving a situation and use your feelings as a guide:


If you feel tense, urgent, overly focused and dependent on "I have to find a solution NOW", notice how you don't really get anything helpful from that. Take a break and come back when you have a clear head.


If you feel overly distracted, neglective and aloof, you are in wonderland. Take the reins of your life, remind yourself of what's important and think about what would happen if nothing ever changes.


If you feel relaxed, ok and at the same time willing to create something new, you probably are in a more clear state of mind. Continue reflecting on a question or a situation, ready to be hit by an insight.


How about you, how do you deal with problems?

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