Approaches to Problem Solving

Problem Solving

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by Jayaram V

There are three primary approaches to problem solving. The first one is the primitive, instinctive approach in which problems are solved by our natural instincts and by our automated responses that are stored in our consciousness as routine events. Many animals solve their problems instinctually without the need to think rationally. We mechanically and routinely solve many problems, without even knowing or feeling them.

Having repeatedly faced them and mastered the instinct as well as the process to resolve them, we automate our problem solving to save time and energy. Most of our automated and habitual responses and thought patterns arise from repeated use of instinctive problem solving. Although, this approach has many a limitations and not entirely reliable, it is still useful in dealing with routine problems.

For example, when you are driving through a familiar route, you automatically resolve many problems without having to think or pay detailed attention. Perhaps, if you have to think consciously each time you come across a pedestrian or a vehicle on the road, you may not drive as effectively or comfortably. However, you may not use the same approach, if you have to drive through an unfamiliar route or a difficult terrain. There, you may use your intelligence, expertise as well as your instincts to drive the vehicle.

The second one is the intelligent approach, in which we rely upon intelligence rather than instinct. In this approach, we view the problem rationally, gather information, think of different alternatives, weigh their pros and cons, estimate the consequences and try to solve the problem using our knowledge, intelligence and expertise.

At times, if the problems are complex, we may also take the assistance of others or build different scenarios to make the best possible decision. This is the scientific or rational approach to problem solving in which we explore various alternatives with precision and careful analysis and choose the best. In doing so, we also resolve related issues to consider the consequences, the time, the tradeoffs and the costs involved.

The third method is the intuitive approach, in which both instinctive and intelligent approaches are automated and in which the mind grasps the solution with little mental effort. In the intuitive approach, the mind uses its higher faculties to automate the problem solving at a much faster rate whereby solutions become self-evident, without the need for analysis or reason. However, it is important to know that intuitive solutions need not be the best solution. Hence, it is better to subject them to further scrutiny with the scientific method.

Thus, each of the three approaches to problem solving have their own importance in our personal and professional lives, and each of them can used alone or in conjunction with others according to the need, complexity of the problem and circumstances.

Spiritual Solutions

Apart from the three approaches stated above to solve problems, there is the fourth one, the spiritual approach, about which not much can be generalized, since it is not possible to predict its course or its occurrence. However, people have been using prayers, chanting, magic, yoga, rituals, and sacrifices for millenniums to solve their problems with divine intervention and found them useful. Some of these methods have a proven track record to resolve problems that are beyond human control, such as healing incurable diseases or overcome adverse conditions. While none can predict their outcome, human history is replete with instances where they proved very useful. Jayaram V

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Suggestions for Further Reading

About Think Success: In 44 well written articles presented in this books, you are introduced to a treasure trove of transformational wisdom. By following the suggestions given in this book, you can achieve success and happiness and live. It is written by Jayaram V, author of several books and hundreds of essays about Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Spirituality and Self-help. This book is currently available at our Online Store (for residents of USA, Canada, UK and some other countries only).

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