Problems are gifts you receive that still need to be unwrapped. Many people confuse problems and troubles. They confuse troubles with disasters.

The definition of “problem” is “a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution.” Notice that there is nothing negative in this definition. We can look at the word problem from the other end. That is, we could define “problem” as “an answer waiting to be found.”

For people who like puzzles, a new “problem” is an obvious gift. A new riddle or crossword puzzle is a joy. These people, and most children, look forward to new challenges. In mathematics every lesson, exercise, test or examination is a series of problems. Each problem has a solution. Collectively they are designed to expand your knowledge and mastery of the subject. This is the basic design of most learning programs including medical science, engineering, music, and art.

It does not seem like music or the arts are based on the same problem and solution scenario as math and the sciences. If you have ever learned an instrument or had someone in your house learning an instrument you have lived it. The first problem is how to get a pleasant sound out of that thing that produces so much noise. Then it becomes the problem of getting the right notes from all of the sounds that are being produced. It goes on to finding the tempo and blending with the other instruments and then expressing both the intention and emotions of the composer, the conductor, and the musician. Writing these articles always starts with two problems. First we have a concept that we want to communicate with you. Secondly we have a blank screen or paper. When the concept is translated onto the page, the problems have not ended. We need to make sure that what we wrote is entertaining, pleasant to read, while being informative, complete, and reachable while still fitting the number of words that can be on a page.

Unfortunately, when many people grown up, they start to forget the magic of solving problems. Problems that occur in our lives are viewed only as negatives. They see the challenge but not the solution.

It does help if you stay young. One of our uncles is in his nineties. He has been a leader in cancer research, an innovator and problem solver. Remember, he is in his nineties and just got another research grant. Even when the calendar says you are old does not mean that you cannot be young in mind and spirit.

Let us conclude as we started. Every problem is a gift waiting to be unwrapped. When you find the solution the gift is available. In most cases you really have three gifts with every problem. You have the solutions, the lesson that you have learned. Second you have the method you used to solve the problem. If you always challenge yourself to find new and better ways to solve the problems, you do get a larger second gift. Third, and by no means least, you find the sources to solve the problem. This is a gift of an expanding or strengthening community.

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