How to Have Better Problems
Techniques for making your problems more interesting to yourself
If your problem is boring to you, chances are it is boring to other people too (even people who can and want to help you with it). This does not mean that you should stop talking about your problem, or that you should stop working on your problem, or that you should enter a pit of despair. It does not mean that your problem is not the most important problem for you to be working on.
All it means is that your problem is boring.
If it is boring to you, you can pay attention to the boredom and make it more interesting. If you make it more interesting, you may well start to make a lot of progress. Below I have begun to outline several techniques to make your problem more interesting to yourself.
FIND THE GENERAL CASE
Your problem may be too small. It feels too petty, too stupid, and you feel embarrassed thinking about it so much. If you have a problem, chances are, somebody else either had this same problem at some point, or somebody else is having this same problem right now. Often it will not appear as the same exact problem, but will be the same problem in different colors, with different people, in a different situation. But the geometry of the problem would be the same. This is the general case, and your current problem is a local subcase.
You want to find the bigger problem that you are are facing an instance of. For example, if you keep replaying something from your past, the general case of the problem is regret.
Often when a person is playing with a problem in their head over and over, they get stuck. They spiral inwards to understand the internal structure of the problem. The problem starts to feel really narrow and constrained, like a pressure chamber encircling and getting tighter and tighter. This helps tremendously for a while, but often people reach a point where they are stuck. They have gone inward to a point where they do not know where else to go. This is when looking out becomes helpful. But out to where?
When you look at the general case of the problem, you can stop looking at only your exact problem, and look at what your problem is a subcase of. This will help you find new tangential information that will be helpful, and will help you have conversations with people about your problem that are also relevant to them and their problems.
But these are useful side effects. There is something even more important. Most importantly, you will learn new direct information about how this class of problems works, and therefore how your local problem works, that you would not discover when looking only at your local problem.
This will also teach you to solve a broader set of problems, versus only your current local problem. This will make solving your problem seem both less boring and less petty, when you start to develop skills and entire bodies of knowledge from solving it that you would not have encountered otherwise.