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Today’s quotation—another good year-starter—comes from that venerable source of ideas, Anonymous:

“Are your problems weighing you down, stressing you out or just boring you? Here is one of the most creative things a human being can do: trade in your problems. Trade them in for bigger, better problems that may challenge you more, but leave you feeling more invigorated and alive.”

 What I hear in this quotation is another of life’s paradoxes: if we’re too stressed out, it may be that our problems are too small!

 As someone has said, it’s not the climb up the mountain that wears you out, it’s the pebble in your shoe.

The bigger problems—the problems that come with learning how to live well and fully, how to love freely, how to be alive and present, how to serve and do what matters, how to do your best work and grow into your best self, how to enjoy and celebrate life—these are the problems that can actually leave us “feeling more invigorated and alive.”

Do you sense the possibilities of that?

Anonymous is saying: instead of trying to eliminate problems (which would probably leave us bored anyway), we should think about trading up to better problems, just like we would trade up to a better car.

And even in the times when we find it difficult to make that trade, I think it’s important to remember:

Everyone has problems; problems are human. And our problems won’t kill us, (though the way we think about them might).

But with the right attitude, our problems can even strengthen us, as Hemingway wrote:

“Life breaks everyone, and afterwards, some are strong in the broken places.”

But don’t forget: you can choose the problems you want to live with.