Tell me about your problems.  Don’t many of us wish to hear that as an opening line to a conversation?  Who among us is not at times hungry for someone to listen to the obstacles we’re encountering in life?

But some of us do nothing but talk or think about our problems.  I noticed with a new acquaintance that whenever we talk he’s focused on struggles that are being caused by people and circumstances over which he has no control.  He doesn’t realize it yet, but his biggest “problem” is the fact that he doesn’t have clear boundaries.  It’s a great source of victimhood and misery for him.

Maybe you’re tired of being miserable, but you also have a hard time being like Pollyanna who saw the silver lining in every cloud.  Switching from seeing the glass as half empty to seeing it as half full is not possible for many of us.  Instead, we might refocus on progress.

Progress is often not obvious.  If we’ve been trained to think of progress solely in straight-line trajectories then we may come up short every time.  Progress is rarely a straight-line, like an uneventful pregnancy that is guaranteed to give birth after 40 weeks.  Progress is in fact very messy and often cannot be perceived except in hindsight.

Our entire lives represent progress, no matter what may occur.  They are a progression in time of experience, action, and reaction.  We are always changing and developing, sometimes toward goals we hunger to achieve, sometimes toward goals which are foisted upon us, and sometimes toward goals to which we inexorably march, such as aging and death.

Of course the challenges we encounter in our life-progress may be perceived as problems to solve, but they need make us miserable.  They are as unavoidable as the progress of our lives, so why not choose the perspective that will give us a sense of moving forward rather than being stuck?  Why not maximize our progress-index?

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