The ‘magic bullet’: Well-being and dealing with challenges

Life will always present us with problems, but if we go through it with some degree of well-being, we will get through it and we will even enjoy it along the way.

In some of the movies and novels we enjoy, the protagonists get their hands on a so-called “magic bullet” that is just what they need to overcome whatever challenge they’ve gotten into. Once they have it, winning the day is easy and the story soon ends on a good note.

However, in real life, we’re often telling each other that “there is no magic bullet” for any given problem. So do magic bullets exist or not? It all depends on how we view our problems.

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When I meet the clients who come to me for counselling, they bring along a problem and some hope for a solution. Over a series of questions, I find out what that problem is. Most clients assume that we’ll be spending a lot of time on figuring out what is causing the problem, and that’s how we’ll come up with a solution. But that’s not how we usually work together. I am not overly interested in what is causing the problem. That may seem surprising, but allow me to explain.

There are simply so many possible causes and contributors to a problem, that the entire context is incredibly difficult to figure out. When we’re stuck on a problem, consider how the following might affect your ability to cope with it: Are you eating a balanced diet? Are you getting enough regular sleep? Did you grow up in secure relationships? Are you connecting well with others now? Do you enjoy yourself regularly? If you aren’t getting up to these things, your ability to cope with that problem is lessened. You might go to a professional for help with it.

The great news is that there is a magic bullet of sorts that can be used for almost all problems. It is well-being. If you have enough well-being, you are able to cope with any problem that comes up, no matter what the cause is.

The field of Positive Psychology posits that there are three aspects of well-being: satisfaction with life, plenty of  positive emotions and fewer negative emotions. We can work on all three of these aspects. We can work on making sense of our past, our present and our future in a way that empowers us; bringing more positive emotions into our life, enriching it; and noticing and handling negative emotions when they show up. These are all tasks that we can work on in counselling, but they also tend to happen naturally for anyone who has enough well-being in their life. If you have those three aspects going on for you, and if you are taking care of your physical self too, you will easily be able to access your many resources to solve problems almost effortlessly. The small problems will seem insignificant, and the bigger problems will seem more like exciting or interesting challenges than mere problems.

So the magic bullet is well-being. It is measured subjectively, so a professional can’t tell you how much well-being is going on for you. They can diagnose disease, but only you can decide how content, kind and resilient you are. You might ask yourself how much well-being is going on for you and how you can invite more of it into your life.

It’s not too difficult. I can offer you some advice. Figure out a healthy perspective to take on your life: did you just survive your past, or grow from it? Will the future bring more threats or opportunities to grow? Figure out a way to introduce positive emotions to your life on a daily basis, such as mindfulness, gratitude journaling or some form of play. Get into the habit of noticing the negative emotions that come up for you, and handle them by taking time for yourself and taking care of yourself.

The beauty of all this is that it’s up to your interests and inclinations. Find out what works for you, and get to it. But when you need some help with it, there are professionals that will be happy to do so.

Life will always present us with problems, but if we go through it with some degree of well-being, we will get through it and we will even enjoy it along the way.

– Alex Rogowsky is a Registered Professional Counsellor practicing in Brandon.

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