The Beneficial Side Effects of PPFFSS

This method has helped me solve many thorny problems. Just today, when a friend annoyed me by rescheduling a get-together for the fourth time, I returned to my memory of the great blackbird battle. Stepping into that funny scenario, I advised my younger self, "Hon, if you're tense enough to need a stick for the dangerous part of the path, perhaps you should just avoid that part." This helped me see that making plans with this particular friend is dangerous; she is renowned for last-minute changes. Solution: I decided to schedule something enjoyable and do it for its own sake; my friend can show up at the appointed place and time—or not. This solution pleased me and removed the strain on the relationship.

The PPFFSS method yields infinite creative ideas, but I've found that whatever comes to mind first is usually best. These solutions aren't just clever—they're powerful. And they put us in the perfect mood: slow to anger, sulk, or panic; quick to offer buoyant, solutions-focused energy.

Right this minute, teachers and supervisors everywhere are telling people, "Stop laughing!" No wonder humans have created so many problems. In fact, those problems are so serious, there's not a second to waste. We simply must focus on sneezing pandas, cowardly poodles, and birds that made us go berserk. We've got a world of crises to deal with. It's time to get laughing.

Martha Beck is the author of Finding Your Way in a Wild New World (Free Press).

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