Problem-solving keeps brain sharp

I bought my first computer in the early 1980s. Now, after almost 30 years, eight or nine computers, and tens of thousands of dollars in repairs and software on top of the cost of the computers, I still love my computer–in a way.
Like almost every person who owns a computer, I have a love-hate relationship with my personal computer: I love it when it works and am terribly frustrated when it doesn’t.
Like last Friday when I wanted to write a column about laughter because I know how important it is to laugh even when you don’t feel like laughing. Even if it has to be a manufactured laugh.
Recently, I’ve been buying e-books instead of regular ones. The cost is about the same, and I much prefer reading at my computer rather than in an easy chair.
By now, I have a good library of e-books.
So I turned to my computer, thinking of referencing “I’d Rather Laugh: How to Find Happiness When Life Has Other Plans for You” by Linda Richman. But when I went to my file of e-books and tried to read “I’d Rather Laugh,” it wouldn’t open!
The problem is that four weeks ago my computer completely crashed. So my computer technician, Rodger, had to put in a new motherboard, which means he had to rebuild the whole computer.
Fortunately, he was able to save all my data. But since, I’ve had a whole range of problems to deal with.
Just as on a new computer, I’ve had to reinstall all my software. Although I usually have my software organized, I found that my PageMaker CD was missing and I couldn’t find the pin number for my database.
More money and more time!
The problem with the e-books is they are licensed to only one computer and my e-book provider doesn’t recognize my new computer.
I’m sure there’s an easy way to fix it if I knew how. Instead, I worked with the problem for an hour or so and gave up.
Once again, I was reminded of my 25 years as a mental health communicator. Of course, it is an over-simplification, but it can be said that good mental health is the ability to solve problems.
Big problems and small problems. Societal problems and personal problems. Automobile problems and computer problems.
Dealing with problems in a mentally-healthy way requires discerning which are the big problems and which are the small ones. And which are your problems and which aren’t.
In the grand scheme of things, computer problems are very small and not too important. But at the time, they are all-consuming.
Like my son said when I was fretting, “It isn’t the end of the world. You just have to figure out how to solve the problem and go on.”
And when you think about it, the same applies to every problem–big or small.
No matter how long we live, we’ll never outlive our problems. But, like former U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles once said, “The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it’s the same problem you had last year.”
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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