Monday, November 26, 2012


"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."
Albert Einstein

We face problems all the time in our lives.

The question is not if we'll have problems, but it is how we'll deal with our problems when we face them.

And how we'll prevent the same problems from occuring again!

There are basically two general ways to solve a problem.

  1. Attending to symptoms of a problem 
  2. Attending to cause(s) of a problem

For example,

  • If someone is sick with cough, (with an underlying bacterial lung infection.)

For treatment,

  1. They can have cough medicine to stop the coughing 
      (attending to symptom).

  2. They can be treated with antibiotics to kill bacteria in the 
       lungs (attending to a cause).

If we only stop the coughing, bacteria may still multiply further and cause greater harm to one's health,
Whereas treatment with antibiotics will not only kill the bacteria, but will also take care of the coughing as well.

One can take steps even further and maintain healthy lifestyle to prevent lung infection from developing in the first place, letting the one's own immune system to deal with all the invading organisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses.

Some of the ways to keep one's body healthy include balanced diet (abundant in fruit and vegetables), exercise (e.g. walking more than 30mins a day), and management of stress (e.g. regular practice of relaxation techniques, and reading inspirational books).

By doing these things (improved diet, exercise and management of stress), one prevents illnesses from occuring at all by boosting one's own immune system and minimising the chance of ill health which may arise from poor dietary habits, lack of exercise and increased stress.

As an example, we can see how many problems arise from a relatively few causes:

       Poor diet
       → Decreased immunity
       → Opportunistic lung infections
       → Coughing, fever, laboured breathing
       → Increased time off work
       → Decreased work productivity
       → Delayed delivery of services and goods
       → Customer complaints + Increased stress of workers in
            many different industries and service sectors
       → Working overtime to meet the demand
       → Workers spend less time spent with family as a result
       → Complaints within family in regards to decreased quality
            time spent with family
       → Marital problems + Strained relationship between parents
            and children
       → Stressed workers turn to smoking (worsening ill health) and
            alcohol (alcoholism + worsening marital relationship; family
            relationship); e.g. Children turn to drugs(for temporary
            pleasure), gang (to seek the sense of identity) and
            sex industry (for comfort and attention) + crime
            (to get drugs, participate in gang activities, and promote
            sex industry)
       → Huge amounts of money are spent in these activities which
            do not result in any productive assets but liabilities
       → And, of course, any of these things can potentially contribute
            to one's poor diet, and poor lifestyle.
            And the vicious cycle continues.

This does not mean poor diet is the cause of all the problems in the world because poor diet itself can be caused by many other things,

  • e.g. busy lifestyle, lack of healthy food choices around the area one's living in, and lack of education.

Now, one can intervene in any part of this chain and attempt to solve a problem or problems. However, unless the cause of a problem is attended to, the vicious cycle will continue.

  • So, my question to readers is "what caused that problem that you have?"

  • The follow-up question is "what caused that cause of the problem that you have?"

  • And "what is the cause of the cause which caused the problem that you have?" and so on.

This is the domino effect.

  • For example, if a CEO of a certain company decided to let its workers to finish at 5pm instead of 7pm, for example, the overall benefit may outweigh the risks involved in decreased work time. 

  • Additional 2 hours offered to workers may provide them with more opportunities to attend to their own needs in regards to quality time with one's spouse, more time spent with children, more time to relax and rest to store up energy for the next day at work.

This is hypothetical but I believe it's not a far-fetched idea either.

  • At least, I know of the Ford company's case where the CEO, Henry Ford granting more money to the workers at Ford than the baseline wages prevalent in other companies at the time resulted in greater productivity and overall boosted morale of the workers.

Eisteinstein may be right in saying that "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."

Will the cough medicine stop the coughing? Yes.
Will one be ok in the long term with just the cough medicine when the real culprit is the bacteria in the lungs? No.

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