What better time than a new year to talk about problems?! Sure, it’s not the most comfortable topic for most. But, I’m on a one-woman mission to change that.

More specifically, it’s important to note that we ALL have problems–some more than others, for sure. But, you can bet, everyone has them.

The trick, then, is to pick your problems carefully. Will you “trade-up” and trade really bad problems for other, not-so-bad problems? Or will you “trade-down” and create worse and deeper problems for yourself?

Here’s an example: I hate winter. I mean, HATE, winter. It’s painful for me, even physically, to be cold. So, as I found myself in Chicago enduring the two worst winters on record, I had a big problem.

Then, we had the opportunity to move to Hawaii… again. And, to be sure, it was a pretty easy decision. But, I had to be careful–moving to Hawaii wasn’t going to get RID of all my problems. It would only change them.

Instead of the winter “problem,” I now have a cost-of-living “problem.” But, you know what? I would rather have the cost-of-living problem any day.

In essence, I “traded-up.”

Where it gets tricky is acknowledging that choice A won’t eradicate all my problems, but may actually create BETTER problems. And, hey, that’s pretty O.K. by me.

As a therapist in Honolulu, I’m often confronted by clients who believe that making a certain choice will get rid of all their problems. After all, aren’t we all tempted to believe that all our problems would go away “If I had more money” or “If I had a better partner?” Sure we are–problem is, it just leads to disappointment when we discover this isn’t true.

In this new year, I encourage you to not try to eradicate your problems, but, rather, “trade-up.” If you do, you may just find they’re easier to solve or, at the very least, accept.