It’s a day like any other. You pull in from work, grab your things and walk into your home. And then it hits you like a ton of bricks. The stinging stench of something dead.

The first thing you notice is everyone walking around holding a rag over their nose and mouth. They’re awkwardly trying to do things that typically require both arms, while having muffled conversations with each other. The second thing you notice is the source of the smell. It’s easy to spot because everyone makes a concerted effort to walk around it. As around it as they possibly can.

A dead rat. In the middle of the living room floor.

Your first instinct is to run. Your second is to throw up. Fortunately, you avoid both.

“Excuse me? How long has that been there?!”

Someone shrugs as everyone goes about their business. They seem more interested in holding the cloth over their nose than paying any attention to you.

Naturally, you wonder, “Why someone hasn’t taken care of the rat?” Inside the reply comes a lesson you’ll not soon forget, “Are you kidding? I’m not touching that nasty thing. I’m just going to steer clear and keep a rag over my nose. Someone else can do it.”

In this illustration, the solution is completely obvious. Yet how many of us spend our lives going around our problem? We accommodate because it’s easier to grab a cloth than it is to take the time, effort (and stomach) to throw out the stinky rat and clean up the carpet? At least in the short-term it is.

But we all know the obvious solution here: unless we remove the source of the problem, the problem itself will not go away. And we wake up to another day, walking around the problem.

The not-so-obvious solution becomes when we’re talking about your inner world.

How often do we blame our circumstances for our lack of success, happiness or fulfillment? Circumstances are neither positive nor negative. Circumstances are neutral…until we make them mean something by the thoughts we place on them.

Stop dwelling on what’s on the outside and get down below the surface to your thought habits. Take a look under the hood and make some changes on a deeper level. Your thoughts are the root of the problem, not your circumstances.

Instead of covering up the smell, take some time each day to give thought to your thoughts. Try meditating, mindfulness and quiet focus. Implement positive affirmations and new beliefs you want to believe, rather than waiting for them to show up first.

In other words, if your life stinks, remove the rat.