How to Solve Any Problem
How to Solve Any Problem
Learn to solve any problem with the PEACE model.
Today’s episode is called How to Solve Any Problem and I’m certain I could not have chosen a more click-bait sounding title for the first episode of my podcast. Be on the look out for pop up ads for shampoo and nutritional supplements.
I don’t have an answer to every problem, but I would like to share a decision making model that can be applied to a lot of difficult topics. If you want to sound smart, you can call this a heuristic.
If we look to, Wikipedia, we can see:
A heuristic technique, or a heuristic is any approach to problem solving or self-discovery that employs a practical method that is not guaranteed to be optimal, perfect, or rational, but is nevertheless sufficient for reaching an immediate, short-term goal or approximation. Heuristics can be mental shortcuts that ease the cognitive load of making a decision.
So this heuristic is a way to make problem solving easier (without guarantees). It can speed up the process (without guarantees) and plain make it easier to think.
By learning and using the steps, the model guides you through the process of examining a topic, learning the options, connecting with your values, so that you can make a well-thought-out decision that’s right for you.
This particular model follows the mnemonic P-E-A-C-E, PEACE. P-E-A-C-E.
Before we dig in, I have some pretty snazzy visual aids available for this on my website. www.EnlightenedRelief.com/1. If you go to the site, www.EnlightenedRelief.com/1, you can view and download those visuals and follow along.
The first step is P, which stands for problem. You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what it is.
Problems can be misleading because many times what we think is one problem, particularly one big problem, is usually just a bunch of small problems all stuck together. Like at the end of Wreck-It-Ralph 2 when all the Ralphs are morphed into one giant monster:
So the first step is identifying one problem to solve.
Moving on to E, the E stands for emotions.
Your brain’s pretty complicated. It’s also got a bunch of parts working together. One of those areas is strong and primal and deep in the brain. It controls deep responses and brute emotions. The limbic system of emotions is a bit more refined but that’s still a separate area from the cortex areas where you plan and think complex thoughts.
So as you solve problems, it helps to identify which parts of the brain are trying to talk to you. Addressing your emotions is a different process from analyzing a problem. Most times people can handle a little bit of each at one time. It’s important to recognize that simply having or expressing emotions does not stop someone from also using analytical areas of the brain.
But there are events where emotions are so strong that someone has to choose to address them before moving on to problem solving. In traumatic situations, one must sometimes even choose short-term survival techniques instead of deeper problem solving.
This E stage is about figuring out where in that area you are. Is this a time to survive or move forward? How strong are your emotions? What do you need in order to address those? What techniques can you use to process your emotions so that you can then access the analytical areas of your brain?
A is for analysis. Like a kid with a new box of hand-me-down toys, we want to dump everything out on the table and see what’s good and what needs to be tossed away or saved in the garage to take apart and build other things.
We want to brainstorm and look at all options, obvious choices, stupid choices, silly choices. We want to take into account choices that are time sensitive and the resources each requires.
One important aspect of this is to look at the problem from multiple perspectives. How do the other people involved view this? How does your partner see the issue? What does your boss think?
Sure. Everyone. Why not?
But it’s not time to make the decision yet because C is for.
C is for contemplation. Think of a snowglobe, those little things with the water globe and the little village inside. You turn it upside down and all the flecks float around and look like snow. That’s what you just did with analysis--now it’s time for the snow to settle.
Giving yourself space is important and that will probably mean physical space and actual time. Walk away from the table. Get out of the house. Wait a week. Every situation will have its own limitations on this, but as a general principle, the more space and time you can allot, the better.
When you return to the problem, take time to think about the situation as if from a high vantage point or long-range planner.
Then move on to E. E is for equilibrium. Here we are aiming for balance between the problem, the actions, your choices and your values, looking for the best alignment. In your analysis you looked at all of the options, your contemplation allowed you to look deeply at the matter and grant yourself space, and now the time is right for decision.
It’s a time for choice. And choice begets responsibility. We are empowered when we take responsibility for our actions. To quote Frankl, human life is not a freedom from, but a freedom to. In the equilibrium phase of decision making, we are free to make choices of some kind and that’s a strong stance to take in any situation and in any choice.
The PEACE model, identifying the problem, addressing emotions, analyzing the issue, taking time for contemplation, and seeking equilibrium, is a method of problem solving that enables you to make a decision that is firmly rooted in your deepest values and allows for an authentic and responsible step forward.
And that’s not click-baity at all.
Thank you for listening to the Enlightened Relief podcast. Please subscribe and give me a 5-star review so that others are more likely to reach this information as well.
The transcript of today’s episode is available online at www.EnlightenedRelief.com/1 as are the snazzy visuals I mentioned earlier. If you would like help applying this model or other techniques to your particular situation, I am--at the time of this airing--accepting new clients for philosophical counseling sessions. That is subject to change, depending upon my availability.
I also usually have some cool events and classes scheduled, but those change regularly, so check the current schedule on the website.