A few years back I went to see a counselor for some relationship issues I was having. Not sure how much it helped, but I do recall something she told me that I really found value in. It applies not only to relationships, but life in general. While listening to me discuss all the issues I felt were troubling the relationship, she said “I see what one of your greatest problems is”. The fact that I had just mentioned like three different things seemed not to matter. I was interested. If there was one issue that connected all of these things and by addressing that the relationship could improve on several different levels, well I was all ears. What she said next really confused me a bit. “You’re focusing on the problem too much”. I thought about that for a second. “How the hell can you solve a problem if you don’t focus on it” I thought. Imagining what I must be thinking she took me over to a wall across her office. She pointed and asked “Do you see that nail hole in that wall?” Well it took me a second, but I found it. She asked how bad it affected the wall. Well considering the wall was pretty big and the hole was small I answered not much. Move closer she told me. So I moved closer until I was mere inches from the hole. How does it look on the wall now? The point was fairly clear. Until she had pointed it out to me I really never even noticed it. Then when staring so close at it, the rest of the wall seemed hard to notice. It is focusing on solving the 10% instead of growing the 90%. How many of us do this? Not just in our relationships, but with our jobs, or our cars, or anything really. We seem to focus on what needs to be fixed or what we wish was better instead of appreciating all that is right. Now I am not advocating ignoring any issue or just pretending it doesn’t exist. Just that we must put things in their fair perspective. Problems are only a part of life. Some things are good, some things are not so good. Yet, as we discussed in the post on gratitude, it is important to give attention to that which is working. We may be mad at our spouse for something they said, but if we stop and think of all the nice things they have done or said we realize things are not that bad. Focusing on a challenge can often make that challenge seem bigger and more intimidating than it really is. So focus on a solution and everything that is working. Put your problems in their place. It will help you feel a lot better and make them a little easier to handle.