Life is hard.
Change is hard. Relationships are hard. Fitness is hard. Creating wealth is hard.
I think we’re making it harder than it needs to be.
What if, just as a thought experiment, we don’t just assume the truth from a hustle-meme? What if we challenge the narrative that happiness and success come from disciplined, hard work? What if we play a game where we look for the life we want as if it were easy?
Life can be easy.
Change can be easy. Love can be easy. Marriage can be easy. Raising kids can be easy.
That may sound arrogant to you, but I’ve experienced both sides of all those coins. I’ve struggled to change, then I discovered The Lyceum Method and with it a life of exciting transitions. I’ve had my heartbroken, and I’ve had it mended and filled. I’ve had a hard marriage, now I’m in an easy one. I’ve had the challenge of raising kids, and I’ve experienced the joy of just observing and getting to know them.
Saying things can be easy might also sound ignorant as if I’m so privileged that I don’t understand the struggle. I’ve had my share of struggles. Most people have, and the ones who don’t will find a way to create them. If it sounds ignorant to you, it’s only because you’ve allowed yourself to assume the premise that life must be hard. I’m not dismissing your struggle. I know that sometimes life feels hard. My point is to challenge the inevitability of the premise “anything worthwhile will be hard”.
We’re told that life is hard and we should accept this in order to not be overwhelmed. As if anticipating difficulties somehow makes you less apprehensive about them. It reminds me of the comedian that said he went to the Dr. and was told if he didn’t reduce his stress he was going to die. “That’s the most stressful thing I’ve ever heard!”
We are inundated with what I call hustle-porn. The more tired and stretched someone is, the more we’re all supposed to look up to them. Sleep is for the weak, the earlier you get up, the more disciplined you are, the better person you’re becoming. Busy is good, productivity even better. We even have an older term for it: “work ethic.” I wonder, is there a “rest ethic”? A “play ethic”? Is it less moral to enjoy leisure than it is to delay gratification?
It’s all bullshit! What’s all that for? Happiness? I look at everything I’m doing today as a practice for my future. If I’m practicing trying to be happy by being exhausted and stressed and cultivating a feeling of “I’m not there yet” and the guilt…oh the guilt! If those are the things I’m practicing then I am going to get better and better at feeling stressed and unsatisfied.
If I practice gratitude, rest, healthy balance, and contentment, then I’m going to become more skilled at feeling those. Happiness becomes easy.
Am I advocating lazy self-entitlement? No. There’s a false paradigm at work here: The idea that you must be a living martyr by sacrificing your life to labor or else you’re a lazy, needy, slob who expects others to provide for you. As with most false paradigms, I see those two choices as being intellectually lazy.
Ironic huh? The worship of difficulties and hard labor is a form of intellectual laziness. That’s kinda funny to me.
So if I’m not advocating for a life spent in sacrifice, nor am I encouraging a life spent begging for others to provide for you, what am I proposing?
Progress can be made by playing. You can edge yourself ever closer to your Vision by practicing being the person who is living your dreams. Practice makes progress. But practice need not be a sacrificial slog. You can practice the life you want by practicing what you want. Act as if you’re the happy, successful, satisfied person of your dreams, and you’ll be that much closer to actually being those things.
Need to change? That’s a skill. Practice it. Start with something small and fun and make it a daily game.
Are you seeking love, or a better relationship? Practice kindness, honesty, and vulnerability (that requires you to also practice bravery, communication, and the self-knowledge to express your needs).
Kids yelling and fighting? Try speaking softly and don’t assume the “socialization” they’re getting in school is a good thing. Practice having a peaceful, kind, and loving home. Speak to your kids with the politeness, respect, and kindness you’d hope to see in them.
Seeking financial success? Start a daily practice of saving, investing, paying off consumer debts, taking small risks, and get on the same page as your partner if you have one. Take opportunities, and learn to say no to most of them.
I realize this article may come across as a long-winded version of, “Just do it!”, but really it’s a prompt for you to take a breath. If life feels like a struggle, take a minute to zoom out to the big picture and ask yourself if most of the pressures aren’t self-imposed. Can you lighten up a bit? Approach problems as challenges in a game? Consider releasing some deadlines and goals in favor of objectives and trajectory?
Implement small daily practices to start being the person you want to be and having the life you want to live. This game will have a cumulative effect and before you know it, grand changes will come.