Life is filled with challenges and difficulties in getting along with others - family, friends, fellow workers. How can one successfully defuse a situation and find a creative solution?
Many a person's first reaction is: "He can't do that to me. It's not right. He should do the right thing!" We first look to blame others. There is an old Spiritual proverb: The Almighty gave us two eyes - one a telescope to see the faults of others from afar; the second, a microscope to see our own faults.
The First Rule: Determine the reality of the situation. Whose fault is it? Am I culpable in any way? Why is the Almighty bringing ME this situation? What am I supposed to do to pass this test and to learn from this predicament? These questions put the situation in perspective and soften the emotions.
Too many people initially seek "justice and righteousness" - which often means seeking revenge. Instead of sweet and fulfilling, it ends badly and is destructive for everyone. There is an old adage, "He who seeks revenge should dig two graves."
Luckily for us, the Bible commands us, "You shall not take revenge nor bear a grudge against the children of your people" (Leviticus 19:18). Not only is revenge a bad idea, it's forbidden!
Pirkei Avos, Ethics of the Fathers, teaches "Who is mighty? One who subdues his passions, as it is written (Proverbs 16:32) 'One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city' ".
The Second Rule: Look at the possible solutions and their outcomes. This is where a person sees that all of those "solutions" that seem so "sweet" actually end in bodily harm and/or jail! Be creative to find a win-win answer. Success is measured by looking at the results of your actions.
Here's an example: A condo neighbor has the air conditioner drainage hose dripping from her balcony to the parking spot below - onto your car! You have politely asked her to move it, but she has forgotten and your car is being covered in a slurry mess as the water mixes with the dust to make your car look like modern art. Let your imagination go wild. How would you feel? What would you think? What would you like to do? Yell at her? Scream? Call the police? Write a letter to the condo board?
One clever fellow had this problem. What did he do? He brought her flowers! She was completely baffled. "Why are you giving me flowers?" The man softly said, "You're a good neighbor ... and I really appreciate your efforts to keep your air conditioner from draining on my car." She thanked him and shut the door a bit confused. However, never again did she forget to move the hose. It is very difficult to get angry at someone who brings you a gift!
Right now I am looking at a more personal problem. As we have moved into a new house, our bedroom faces the street. We have a renter accross the street (the impliation is that as a non-homeowner, she is less responsive), who has three dogs constantly yapping and last night woke us up at 2:00 in the morning. How to deal with the noise? I am looking in myself for creative solutions!!
Sometimes a problem can be dealt with by making a paradigm shift -looking at it from a different direction.
The Almighty did not put us in this world so that we can cruise through with all of the comforts of life, no pain, no challenges and then to die peacefully under a beach umbrella with a piîa colada in hand. The Almighty placed us in this world to face challenges, to perfect our character and to grow spiritually. That's why life is filled with challenges. It is our choice whether to view the challenges as obstacles or stepping stones!