Get in the habit of thinking outside of the box. You never know when you will need this skill. Often an answer to a new problem is found by combining two or more old ideas that might not seem related. Another approach is to take a complete break from trying to solve the problem at hand and then let the creative part of your brain kick into gear "in your absence."

Here's a unique approach to solving a problem for which there seems to be no answer: Develop your own personal "Board of Directors" comprised of friends and loved ones whose input you respect and who care about your well-being. Brainstorm about possible solutions and notice how ideas you've never considered come to the fore. You'll find that the whole is indeed greater than the sum of the parts.

Even if these ideas don't lead to an immediate "miracle" you'll feel better for having implemented them. Further you'll have planted some seeds that may germinate in an hour, a week, next month or next year.

Maud Purcell is a psychotherapist, corporate consultant and director of the Life Solution Center of Darien.

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