Among all the creatures on our planet only we humans have the remarkable ability to solve (and also create) various problems. But, many a time, we cannot resolve problems and issues that trouble us no matter how hard we try to using conventional methods. And those conventional methods we normally use are to either constantly brood over it, or debate it to eternity, or collect truckloads of data in the hope that it will help us arrive at a solution. However, in spite of such intense efforts, the solutions will often evade us. To understand why one should note that problem solving is a mysterious science that sometimes goes beyond conventional thinking, objective analysis, left brain rationality, etc. In order to solve many pressing problems that haunt us one should occasionally ignore the conventional methods and instead enter the world of unconventional thinking. Many a time, unconventional methods can easily solve problems that conventional methods cannot. Given below are a few such methods that one can try when struck with a nagging problem.
Let it go: We often believe a solution will appear if we keep attacking a problem relentlessly. Unfortunately, that is not the right way as solving many problems is similar to chasing a beautiful butterfly. The harder you try to catch it the farther it flies away. But, surprisingly, if you stand still that butterfly will start flying very close to you or may even sit on your shoulder. In a similar way as a popular quote tells, ‘If you want something very badly, first set it free,’ you may have to first let go of a nagging problem for some time. Forcefully eject it from your mind and give it some time to clear the mental fog. When you do that suddenly you can discover new ways and obvious solutions dropping in that can seem vastly superior to your previous thoughts. This is the paradox of letting go where the solution pops up only when you let go and give up instead of clinging on desperately.
Sleep over it: Each one of use is a mysterious and magnificent machine. Behind our normal physical existence there lies a vast untapped world that we are not fully aware. There are countless incredible skills and powers that we have, but never know or don’t know how it works. Even today one never knows why solutions evade us when we are vigorously trying to solve, but pop in mysteriously when we least expect it or when we are asleep. In many cases, it’s intuition and dreams that give us an answer to a problem that is impossible to get when we are awake. For example, one of the most revolutionary findings in organic chemistry was the discovery of the structure of benzene molecule. The scientist, Friedrich Kekule worked for years to discover its atomic structure without success. But one night, he dreamt of many snakes circling together and forming a ring of six snakes chasing each others tails. When he awoke he got the answer, which was the shape hexagon as the elusive structure of the benzene ring.
Wait for the destined hour: Sometimes you have to think philosophically. Many a time you may think, ‘Why was I racking my brain when the solution was so simple, or why couldn’t I think of it before?’ But, as Ovid, a Roman poet once said, ‘Everything comes gradually at its appointed hour.’ Similarly, many solutions arrive only at the appointed hour and not before, no matter how hard you try.
Finally, we can conclude this chapter with a great quote from Albert Einstein who said, ‘The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you, and you don’t know how or why.’