The Problem with Human Problems

The problem with human problems is not the problems, but it is the humans who are looking at the problems.

More often than not, we like shortcuts and simplicity. In many cases, those things work well and they keep the earth spinning and moving. However, being obsessed with shortcuts and simplicity can create an illusion of an ideal world and that things should go according to the ideal way.

If we are talking about robots, then that is definitely the case. Robots will follow the algorithms set in their programming (unless you watch too many apocalyptic movies). But even then, we still can end up with glitches.

Humans are not robots. The same medicine may or may not work for two different human beings. We like to think that the same medicine will work because we like to think that we are all exactly the same. That knowledge keeps our worries at bay, but it does not acknowledge a simple fact which actually can solve the problem rather than simply sweeping the dusts under the carpet. That fact is this: human beings are more complicated than that.

Having the trust of one person is a priviledge, because that means that the person gives us permission to enter into his or her life. Someone’s life is someone’s privacy. We don’t just go in and make ourselves comfortable. We will get kicked out or, in some places, we might get sued. So when someone willingly opens his or her door to us, we should enter with care and compassion.

Oh, and leave our shoes outside.

When we talk about dealing with people, we should prefer personalization (customizing our approach to individual’s uniqueness) over standardization (same approach for all). Having said that, standardization has a place, but personalization has a bigger place.

When someone has a problem, don’t be too quick to grab an answer from the answer scheme in our memory bank. This is not a school examination where we can get by with memorizing answers and spitting them out on a paper. This is real life, with its nuances and complexities.

We need to pause and resist the temptation to view other people’s problems through our lens, thinking that everyone should know what we know and everyone should perceive what we perceive. We need to cultivate the skill of looking at the world through the eyes of the other. Only then do we truly understand (or at least make a sincere attempt at understanding) the problems faced by others.

Each of us is different from the other. We are different people; different backgrounds, different tastes, different personalities, different group of friends, different upbringing, different cultures, different subcultures, different neighbourhoods, different education, etc.

Whenever we talk about people, these are the kind of things that we need to keep in mind – our differences. Not so that we can alienate and discriminate each other, but so that we can help a person in ways that would actually solve the person’s problems and not in ways that would only serve to satisfy our ego.

Helping people is not serving us. It is about serving the other. To be in a position of service is an honour and a blessing, with or without a material reward. Yes, it is also a difficult position to be in. But such is the reality of life.

There are universal principles which we should hold on to, but those principles manifest themselves differently in different times and places, with different people. We need to be adapting and evolving, while remaining true to our roots.

We shouldn’t reduce life to black and white; thinking that there is a one-size-fits-all answer, thinking that we can just copy and paste that answer, and thinking that it will produce the exact same result with anyone.

Face fact: Life is complex. Life is difficult.

The moment we realize that, it becomes easier.