Problems: Our Greatest Teachers

Jennifer Sneeden
4 min readAug 11, 2022
Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

I was just about to start a new project in Mississippi for a client. This was work that I loved, and I couldn’t wait to get started. Not having traveled in a few years, I was out a bit out of practice, so I spent a few days getting travel size toiletries, shoes that I could stand in for 9 hours without being in misery, and downloading books for the flight.

I had been hired to do focus groups with several hundred employees, and in-depth interviews with the executive team. I’d been prepping for days, eager to do my best work. The client had coordinated their employees so that they could get everyone in to meet with me.

We were all ready to go.

Then came the text from Delta: DL 1106 is canceled.

The alternative they booked me on wouldn’t get me in until late the next afternoon, and I’d miss an entire day of scheduled focus groups and roundtables. Not an acceptable solution. I began searching for other flights that might get me close to my destination. Nothing.

I had a choice to make: tell the client I’d be arriving a day late, or gas up the car and drive the 14 hours.

I chose to drive the 14 hours. Cancelling this engagement wasn’t even a serious consideration for me. I’m good at figuring things out. I honor my obligations. If I tell a client I’ll be there, I’ll be there.

I hadn’t foreseen this problem, but I was going to find a way to overcome it. Just like I did so many problems in my life: My flight getting canceled when a client is waiting for me. A water stain on my kitchen ceiling. That blood pressure reading that I can no longer ignore.

Problems that I contend with in my life. We all have them, right? We all have to take a deep breath and just deal with it. That’s how we move past it and get back to the joy that we want in our lives. We just try not to let the problems consume us too much.

But what if our problems weren’t really problems at all? What if these problems aren’t just obstacles that need to be overcome. What if they are actually stepping stones to an even more joyful and magnificent life?

Is it possible to see the water stain on the kitchen ceiling and see it as an opportunity? Is it possible that a last minute road trip to Mississippi because my flight was cancelled is a good thing?

This seemed like a big stretch when I first started hearing about this concept. I started hearing it in church: God is good all the time. Then I started hearing it from Abraham-Hicks: Everything is always working out for me.

How could this possibly be true? It felt like my life would just be so much easier if I didn’t have to contend with these problems. I just wanted all the problems to go away so I could get back to the fun of living my life.

But somewhere along that 14-hour drive, something miraculous happened. I had a LOT of time on my hands to listen to books. I listened to a book that had been recommended to me a few years ago that I’ve never gotten around to reading. That book recommended a book by another author. This second book was on healing back pain, which isn’t a problem I have, but I had 10 hours and 20 minutes left in the drive, so why not? I’m fascinated by the mind-body connection, so I figured, what the heck. It turns out that this author, Dr. John Sarno, had a system of healing that didn’t just heal back pain. It also worked for a health problem that had been plaguing me for about 4 years.

I applied his technique, and within 2 weeks, the problem was completely gone. Gone. The solution that I’d been seeking for years dropped in my lap. I had to be completely bored with way too much time on my hands before I could find it.

Had I taken the flight, I probably never would’ve found time for the first book let alone the second one. It was only through those relentless hours on long country road that I found time for the solution I was seeking.

And as if that wasn’t reason enough for the drive, it turns out that the path from my house to Mississippi takes me directly through the town my sister just moved to. I ended up getting to spend time with her, which was something I wanted to do, but couldn’t find the time.

Ashton Kutcher said this: “The moment you start seeing your obstacles as things that are made for you, to give you what you need, then life starts to get fun, right? You start surfing on top of your problems instead of living underneath them.”

That’s it. I learned to see my problems as things that are made for me. A cancelled flight that led to a delightful visit with my sister and some much-needed healing.