A long time ago, a friend of mine told me the story of how she was staying over on another friend’s boat down in Florida. She had been having a lot of problems, bumping up against the world so to speak. Things weren’t going her way at the time, and the harder she tried the worse it seemed to get.

She woke up one morning and went into the bathroom. On the medicine cabinet mirror, there was a small sign that said: “You are looking at the problem.”

The insight that note provided actually allowed her to turn her life around. She realized that, for so many things, she herself was the only thing standing in the way. She realized that acceptance is the key to happiness in this world.

I took her lesson to heart, and here is the sticker I have had on my dressing mirror for many, many years:

You can see that someone has crossed out “problem” and written “answer” in its place. That was my daughter, who happened upon the sticker one day and thought it too depressing.

I have kept the edit, because I actually think they are both right. In so many cases, I am both the problem and the answer. I’m the problem, because I get in my way, or don’t accept the world as it is, or try to power-drive the people around me, or try to live as if things can be perfect. I am the answer because all by myself, if I want to see change I need to cultivate the capacity of willingness — willingness to accept, willingness to put in the effort needed, willingness to forgive.

I am thankful for this little scrap of wisdom I get to see every morning as I get dressed. And thankful to my friend and to my daughter for teaching me.