Troubleshooting

An excerpt from “Stop Thinking Start Living – Discover lifelong happiness” by Richard Carlson:

Troubleshooting is a way of life for many people. It means being on the lookout for what’s wrong, finding flaws, seeking out imperfections, pointing out potential pitfalls, finding fault, generating concerns, being a sceptic, and remembering mistakes. For a computer product this can be crucial; for a human being it can be devastating.

Troubleshooting is a socially acceptable form of mental illness. Many people are proud of their ability to predict potential problems, see faults in others, and remember past mistakes. They call themselves ‘realists’. They consider their fault-finding skills necessary and important. They rationalize their behaviour and way of thinking by saying such things as, ‘You must learn from history,’ and ‘Someone had to look out for the problems.’

Troubleshooters often raise children with low self-esteem. They are so busy pointing our the ways that their children could improve that they totally forget to enjoy their presence. The children often interpret their parents’ attitude to mean that they are not good enough. Trouble shooters have low self-esteem themselves. Rather than experiencing what is happening in their lives, they are constantly thinking of ways to improve their experience. Regardless of how good things get, they constantly want more.

A troubleshooter can never be satisfied because she is using her thinking against herself. She is too busy evaluating her life to enjoy it. She picks up the slightest imperfections and turns them into a big deal. Even when she likes something, she compares it to something else.

There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to improve, excel, achieve, or compare. But there is something harmful to the human psyche when, instead of being open and receptive to the beauty of life, it is overflowing with comparisons, criticisms, suggestions, and thoughts of imperfections. Life doesn’t have to be a contest to see how many flaws you can find. Life can be beautiful, and it will be, when you start dismissing the thoughts you have that take you away from a good feeling about life, a feeling of love and appreciation, your healthy psychological functioning. Instead of following the troubleshooting thoughts you have, practice ignoring them. Rather than following through with an unnecessary suggestion to someone, practice holding your tongue. Instead, offer your support for doing it their own way. Instead of anticipating potential problems and reviewing past mistakes, keep yourself here, in this moment. See for yourself how living moment to moment tends to take care of most problems. Remind yourself that your inner wisdom and healthy functioning will learn from history – all by itself – even if you don’t review your mistakes in your head. Watch what happens when you dismiss a concern in your mind as ‘just a thought’. Notice how very few of your concerns actually manifest into significant real-life problems. For those concerns that really do become problems, watch how gracefully you solve them when you remain present and focused, when your head isn’t muddled with a lot of other thoughts, related or not, that only add to the problem.

I love the idea that “Troubleshooting is a socially acceptable form of mental illness.” How would your experience of life be different if you were “cured”?