When you encounter difficult situations or problems in your life, you often want to fix the problem. You look at the things that aren’t going well and what you can do to change that. You call this your problem solving ability. This is often quite effective in solving most problems, but what if a problem seems unsolvable? Are there any other perspectives, besides having to solve the problem? What if there is a solution that has nothing to do with the problem? Look at solutions instead of problems; this can be more successful than you think!

Solution-oriented approach to problems

When you look at solutions instead of problems, you focus on the things that go right instead of the things that aren’t. You focus less on analyzing the problem and the things you don’t want. Instead, you look at the things that make you happy, your strengths and the things that you do want. One might imagine that this will also bring along a lot of positive feelings. This approach is used during solution-oriented therapy, a treatment within positive psychology. You learn not to focus on the problem, but on the possibilities and the solution. You focus on doing things that already go well, whilst you use your strengths and resources to solve the problem.

How can you do this?

Naturally, you don’t have to follow solution-oriented therapy to apply this to your daily life. Take a look at the tips below to get started yourself!

  • Do more of what works for you instead of what doesn’t.
  • Look at what you do want instead of what you don’t want. So don’t say: “I don’t want to have mood swings anymore”, but say: “I would like to have a more stable mood”. This gives you a positive goal, after which you can ask yourself: “What is the first step I’m going to take to achieve this?”.
  • Think about the things that do go well. You can track this in a positivity diary, for example. This learns you to look at the things that go well, that you might want to do more often.This helps you to become aware of your strenght.
  • Think about the three of your personal aspects that have brought you where you are right now.
  • Ask yourself these questions:
    • What is already going well? What else? How did I manage to do this?
    • What do you want to do more of?
    • In what area would you like to see the biggest improvement?
    • What are you hoping for? What difference would that make?
    • Who or what would help you to reach your goal?
    • What is the first step you will take to realize the solution? And what is the second step? On a scale of 0 to 10, how close am I towards the solution?
    • Imagine your problem is miraculously solved this evening. What will be the first thing that will make you notice, tomorrow morning? What will you feel, think or do? Try to think about this!


With these tips you can make the first steps towards a solution-oriented approach of your problem. Try to regularly practice; e.g. set a reminder in the NiceDay app that reminds you to do this.

“Think about the solutions, not about the problems“

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Ilya de Groot

Hi, my name is Ilya, I am a psychologist and coach at NiceDay. I love traveling, good food, new experiences and exercising (roller skating and skiing). The balance between effort and relaxation is important to keep, are you managing? I would like to help you with that!

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