Dealing with problems is life

Life is full of problems—small problems like a broken fingernail to big problems such as dealing with a major health crisis.
And in between are the middle-sized problems, like the one I had to deal with last week.
In order to comprehend the scope of my problem, you have to understand that I’m the ultimate list-maker. Unlike my brother, who has a tiny to-do list the size of a business card tucked in his pocket and never misses anything, my list is huge and complicated.
I began list-making early in life, but I really refined the art when computers came in. Now I have a long, long to-do list—probably begun before the year 2000 and fine-tuned every day!
But this list is much more than an ordinary to-do list. It is the list from which I run my entire life.
In addition to my schedule, the list includes my goals, ideas for columns, birthdays and other important dates, remedies for common illnesses, phone numbers, the plan for a book of “This Side of 60” columns that I’m putting together, and much, much more.
The thought of losing that list strikes terror in my heart. I would be lost without it! Fortunately, I haven’t lost it.
But something almost as scary has happened.
Unbelievably, I accidentally copied and pasted six extra copies of the whole list into the document. I have no idea how it happened or even exactly when–only that it happened.
The really sad thing is that, before I realized my mistake, I alphabetized the entire document.
Imagine my chagrin when I found seven of everything. Seven copies of my dentist’s phone number, seven copies of my Christmas list, seven copies of all of my favourite quotes.
Seven copies of everything–all neatly alphabetized! Hundreds or even thousands of pages (I’m afraid to look how many!)
When I realized what had happened, I was horrified. I had no idea what to do. It would take weeks of work to get rid of the extra six of everything, I thought. And on top of that, I was afraid of losing some data.
But after the first panic subsided, I recognized this was not a major crisis. I could deal with it. On the other hand, it was a serious problem, not like breaking a fingernail.
There was no quick fix in this situation–a long and tedious process lay ahead of me.
Any time we are faced with a problem (which is many times a day), our first job is to assess the seriousness. Is this a full-fledged crisis or is it just a minor irritation, or is it somewhere in between?
If it is a major crisis, don’t panic. You can handle it! One step at a time. If it is not major, don’t over-dramatize it. You’ve dealt with problems before; you can do it again.
Just remember, life is full of problems–big and small. And the way you deal with them makes a huge difference in the quality of your life.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at

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