We all have problems. We have an employee we can’t figure out how to motivate. We have a kid with behavioral issues. We have a job we want to leave, or a couch we want to get up a complicated flight of stairs. We have clients who ask for things that seem impossible and we have trouble fitting an exercise regimen into our busy lives.
What do we do with all this? How do we handle it?
We must repeat to ourselves a beautiful mantra from the writer and entrepreneur Marie Forleo: Everything is Figureoutable. Everything is Figureoutable. Everything is Figureoutable.
Because it’s true. The Stoics knew it was. Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations is filled with constant reminders that if he just slowed down and put his mind to it, he could figure just about anything out. Take it action by action, he wrote, no one can stop you from that. “Are there brambles in the path?” he asked, then go around. If it’s humanly possible, he said, then know that it’s possible for you. Think about Epictetus exhorting us to put each impression—each fear or worry—up to the test. It’s the same thing. Slow down, really look at it, figure out what to do next.
Nearly every problem has a solution. It’s just a fact. It might not be the solution you want, but there is a solution. In fact, that’s the essence of the idea that the obstacle is the way. Each problem presents you an opportunity to move forward, to improve. No one said this would be easy, or even that it would be fun, but it is a fact that there is always something you can do. The question is only whether you will do it or not.
Are there some utterly unsolvable problems in life? Like death? Or pi? Yes, sure, but Marcus Aurelius has that figured out too. As he said, those problems mark the end of all your other problems, too. So don’t worry about that. In the meantime, get to solving what you can.
Everything is figureoutable.