What is a problem after all? A problem is a situation where we have a goal – determined or not well defined and we do not know how to resolve it or more solutions are simultaneously possible and again we do not know the right one. Such a situation is perceived by us as a state of frustration, conflict even logical contradiction. We often try to make it worse by associating an often theoretical problem with a physical metaphor, like naming it a „barrier“, „road-block“, „state of suffocation“ or God knows what else, just to feel it more overwhelmingly.
What does our brain do meanwhile we try to get „poetic“ with the issue? Well, it uses strategies. Using strategies consciously is the way to go if we want really to ease the mental tension we might be subjected to. Here are some ways that are recognized by the science of psychology that are useful to approach the problem. Of course, different issues have different solutions but doing pro-actively something is a very important step and it is perceived by the mind as one step closer to the solution, ergo can make us feel much more confident and overall happier already. So let’s dig into it.
The first strategy we use is the trial and error method. You keep trying till you eventually get it right. Pretty simple. If you miss it, unless it is a ball game you don’t lose anything, you remain just there where you were before you took the „shot“.
The second technique is the algorithmic strategy technique. This one makes up of strategic steps which will lead us to solve the ultimate goal. These solutions are available only in the case of well-determined problems, which presumably had been solved by somebody else before and we could also benefit from clear indications on how to proceed in that particular case. We apply the formula, the result comes out beautifully. Some might think, that this is suitable for only a few problems but one might get surprised that with consequent documentation and research how many things have already been resolved. Not knowing makes no excuses!
The heuristic approach is the “rule of thumb”. It is a solution to problems with a lot of variables. It is not the optimal solution but the best you can find and come up with regarding the circumstances. It limits risky solutions that might go terribly wrong and gives you fair satisfaction. It is the one to go with if you are not the all or nothing kind of guy.
The analogy way of ending your miseries is the one that is based on similarities with past actions and their outcomes. You practically transfer the process of tackling from one past experience to the present one and apply it, of course, if you had one before. Even if you did not succeed in the past, maybe changing some steps which you identified as wrong can lead to a better result this time.
And there is one interesting theory of problem-solving dating from 1925 called “insight”. This so-called insight is referred to as some kind of sudden revelation that might occur as a result of a period of incubation of previously gathered and processed knowledge. This one is a tricky one and not always available, so if you have a math exam coming up, better learn the formulas and apply the strategy of algorithms ...