You Won’t Be Successful Until You Stop Solving Problems
“A mind with problems is not a serious mind.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti
(For context, this article was written 2 Saturdays ago)
Today is Saturday, the end of a gruesome week.
This week, I wrote 7 articles for my blog. I published 12 answers on Quora. I wrote 2 long-form articles for my ghostwriting clients. I also worked on my upcoming essay collection and published one article in my premium newsletter.
In total, I wrote close to 20,000 words this week.
In Jiu-Jitsu, I taught 4 Jiu-Jitsu private lessons and 8 group classes, I trained once every single day, twice on Thursday, and I lifted weights 3 times this week.
In total, I worked about 55-60 hours this week on different projects, and though tomorrow is Sunday, the grind doesn’t stop tomorrow, either. I have to be up at 8 am for my Sunday training session.
That’s the thing, isn’t it? The grind never stops. There’s always a problem to solve, and I’m always giving everything I have to solve it.
What I’m starting to realize is that my only real problem is my obsession with solving problems.
The meditation from a great philosopher that started it all.
Recently, I’ve been nose-deep in Jiddu Krishnamurti’s The Book of Life each night before bed.
The book consists of 365 daily meditations on life, spirituality, and philosophy from one of the most unique philosophers to ever walk the earth.
Krishnamurti was known as a deep thinker and renowned writer on how the human mind works, the nature of consciousness, and other spiritual ideas. In my opinion, The Book of Life should be required reading for all budding philosophers.
This meditation in particular smacked me in the face last night. I’ve been thinking about it all day.
“One of the principal questions which one has to put to oneself is this: how far or to what depth can the mind penetrate into itself? That is the quality of seriousness because it implies awareness of the whole structure of one’s own psychological being, with its urges, its compulsions, its desire to fulfill, and its frustrations, its miseries, strains and anxieties, its struggles, sorrows, and the innumerable problems that it has. The mind that perpetually has problems is not a serious mind at all, but the mind that understands each problem as it arises and dissolves it immediately so that it is not carried over to the next day such a mind is serious.
What are most of us interested in? If we have money, we turn to so-called spiritual things, or to intellectual amusements, or we discuss art, or take up painting to express ourselves. If we have no money, our time is taken up day after day with earning it, and we are caught in that misery, in the endless routine and boredom of it. Most of us are trained to function mechanically in some job, year in and year out. We have responsibilities, a wife and children to provide for, and caught up in this mad world we try to be serious, we try to become religious; we go to church, we join this religious organization or that or perhaps we hear about these meetings and because we have holidays we turn up here. But none of that will bring about this extraordinary transformation of the mind.” — J. Krishnamurti
What Krishnamurti is saying here is exactly what I, along with many other creators and entrepreneurs struggle with.
In the pursuit of financial freedom, creative goals, and self-expression, we often become side-tracked by becoming immersed in the hustle of pursuing our passions. We do what we love so much that what we love slowly becomes something that we hate.
Problem-solving is a state of mind.
In romantic relationships, some people constantly look for problems.
They look for things that are “wrong” with the relationship, and they spend their time trying to fix them. They spend so much time “fixing things” that they spend no time involved in their actual relationship, and as a result, they grow distant from their partner. They grow closer to solving the problem, but further away from the person that they love.
This is a classic case of a lack of mindfulness ruining a relationship.
Likewise, a lack of mindfulness can ruin your professional and emotional lives, but not in the way that you might think.
Yes, not being mindful might make you anxious, but it also will slow and eventually halt your productivity, personal development, and creativity.
This is because the mind that is always solving problems is always looking for problems.
I’ll use myself as an example.
In my work life, everything I do is imperfect.
My writing is never perfect. I always have to hit “publish” on work that I feel isn’t quite ready to publish because if I waited till I felt satisfied, I would never publish anything.
In Jiu-Jitsu, my technique is never perfect. There’s always more that I can be learning and I can always be stronger, faster, fitter, and better.
If you choose to (I often do, unfortunately) look at your abilities with a negatively oriented growth mindset, you become like one of the people Krishnamurti talks about in the meditation above. You become someone who is constantly seeking problems, and thus never finding solutions.
In doing this, you increase the possibility of burnout, overwork, obsession, and eventually, resentment for something that you once loved.
I guess the irony is that in trying to process my exhaustion of the last few weeks, I sat down and wrote an article about it.
In a day or so, I will edit this article and try to publish it.
When I read this article again before publishing, I will analyze it for “problems” — parts where thoughts are unclear, aspects that need further elaborating on, and parts that just need to be removed. Then, I will press publish and move on to the next article.
I’ll start thinking again. I’ll start grasping at ideas as they come to me again. I’ll start trying to solve problems again.
That is the life of a writer and the life of a fighter.
But is that the life of the person I want to be?