Today, playing Sudoku, I was again reminded that life’s problems often look worse than they really are, and all that needs to be done is take one step at a time.

If you’re not familiar with Sudoku, it’s a number game played on a grid similar to a crossword puzzle. I play, because I’m told that doing these types of puzzles helps to keep my brain engaged and healthy. Sometimes I wonder what I’d have forgotten if I wasn’t playing it all the time. But meanwhile, I have become a bit of a Sudoku addict.

Today I was working on an “extreme” puzzle. There were no easy solutions. I had to pencil several numeric possibilities into each square and hated that. It looked like there were too many possibilities and the puzzle would take me forever to solve. I began to consider several excuses for not finishing the puzzle: “It’s just not fun anymore… I don’t have to do this… I want to switch to an easier one . . . Sudoku is a waste of time.” Or, “ It may be unsolvable – one of the rare puzzles that got put into the book by mistake.” I wanted to take the easy way out and move on. But, I’m relentless in some ways (OK, most ways) and I plodded on putting numbers in squares.

A couple minutes later I found a solution. One number became obvious which helped me to eliminate others, fill in other squares and move on. What had seemed like a puzzle that would take me forever, or was even unsolvable, was solved in less than 10 minutes. What fun it was to finish such a difficult looking task so easily.

I laughed at myself for looking for ways out when things got rough. How often does this happen in real life? Sometimes I have what seems like “too much work” on my desk, so I stress out because I think it will take forever to get it all done. Or worse, I’m afraid I’ll fail. Sometimes problems seem overwhelming and unsolvable. But, they aren’t.

Negative anticipation is overrated. When we stress over the challenges in front of us we throw our energy away on illusion. The key is to just take one small step – fill in one square at a time – and the answers magically begin to appear. The solution unfolds in front of me. It’s impossible to see how situations will be handled in the future because we aren’t there yet. As we act, the future unfolds, we learn, and we deal with it.

I read a quote by Barry Neil Kaufman the other day: “Worrying about the future is like trying to eat the hole in a doughnut. It’s munching on what isn’t.” We're never given a challenge we can't handle. With perseverance and faith we figure it out – sometimes given guidance that helps us along the way – and any puzzle is solvable.

Author's Bio: 

Deborah Hill has been actively involved in the healing & coaching of others throughout her adult life; first as a Registered Nurse and Nurse-Midwife, and finally as an intuitive coach, author, speaker, teacher, energetic therapist and artist. Her extensive life experiences include 4 degrees in science and psychology, 18 years as an entrepreneur running her own business, and raising her wonderful, grown daughter as a single parent.

Deborah has extensively studied many forms of natural and traditional healing, as well as counseling, coaching and spiritual disciplines with several teachers over the past 35 years.