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Most of human activity is motivated to take us away from pain towards pleasure. Wanting to face adversity is against our nature and we will always yearn for a life that is as easy as possible. It’s an evolutionary pre-disposition we can’t change.
Therefore the mission – life long goal – of our mind is to avoid anything that might be too strenuous. Too much exertion creates a situation where we might not make it. The border between surviving and thriving is too fragile and we better not take the risk.
It makes us want to get off the hook so to say. To face as little resistance as possible – TO HAVE IT EASY. To not have to work, to not have to starve, to not have to learn, to not have to adapt to change, to not have to hunt for dinner, to not have to provide for ourselves – everything ought to be effortless. We are there just to enjoy the safety of the present moment. There is nothing we can do about it.
Having it easy vs tough.
However there is a flaw in this way of thinking. Having it easy doesn’t actually contribute to nothing else other than conserving ourselves. It entails us staying in our comfort zone and not taking any risks.
Now what’s wrong with that you might ask? Well everything – stagnation and no growth is not tolerated in nature. Who won’t adapt will die and be replaced with new life. It is a law – our environment has just managed to find a way to get away with breaking it.
The polar opposite of having it easy is having it tough. It is about having to fight for our dinner, to exert ourselves both physically and mentally, to suffer pain and discomfort, to face adversity, to work our ass off to get what we want out of life, to overcome obstacles, to succeed.
Having it tough implies to growth and expansion. It is self-empowerment. While having it easy is stagnation.
Adversity as augmentation.
All great achievements have been impeded by an obstacle – it is the presence of this antagonistic force that makes it noteworthy in the first place.
Imagine Alexander the Great’s conquest of Persia being easy – no outnumbering armies, no deserts, no hunger, no unknown territories, no injuries, no inner conflicts, no hardship. Would his accomplishment have been that great without those things? Definately not – it was the annihilation of his enemy despite its surmounting size that made the victory so impressive and famous. At the age of 30 he became the ruler of the biggest empire the world had ever seen before.
If Michelangelo hadn’t exerted himself while creating the Sistine Chapels ceiling it wouldn’t have turned out as great as it did. Because of the difficult location it required more dedication and effort. The man was standing there with his head tilted in an upward position with paint dripping onto his face for hours upon end. Despite all that he persevered through it and a masterpiece was born – one that is amongst the greatest pieces of art in the entire world.
However no one talks about what a great job the Persians did in the battle of Thermopylae. They outnumbered the Greeks by an unimaginable amount but only managed to destroy them after 7 days. Despite the favourable conditions which promoted having it easy they should have won right away but they didn’t. Whereas on the other hand the Spartans who had it tough held off the opposing force for long enough to buy additional time for their countrymen. Their sacrifice required effort which made them the most famous warriors of all time.
Facing adversity is what makes any accomplishment or goal worth achieving.
Separation from the pack.
You problably have heard the saying: „If it were easy then everyone would do it.“ Those who have it tough and persist through adversity are a different breed. They are conditioned to having it harder than everyone else. Anything lower than that is easy – it feels like going downhill the opposite to what they’re used to.
However those who have had it easy most of their life aren’t prepared for adversity. Anything tougher than what they are used to is an obstacle that is harder for them to overcome. It isn’t impossible but definately a lot more difficult than to others. Even the smallest of challenges seem like mountains.
An easy environment.
Traditonally our ancestors weren’t dealt with the cards we are today. Our environment is very comfortable (a big pitfall of modern society) and we are constantly having it easy. Hardship is foreign to most of us.
In the past people didn’t get to choose. They HAD it tough no matter what and thus HAD to adapt. The conditioning was forced not voluntarily chosen.
Having it tougher is much more challenging than it being easy. Therefore it would be a lot more reasonable to yearn for the former.
Why you want it to be tough.
There is a lot of merit in having it harder. Not only will it make us more tougher but also better human beings. Having to face difficult tasks we are conditioning ourselves with overcoming them more easily.
It is something that our minds will always want to avoid. It requires effort and energy which is dangerous for our existence. Or that is what we would like to think.
Anecdotally having a rough time and overcoming obstacles is what will determine our survival not the other way around. Having it easy prevents us from being able to adapt to change to which we are prepared to under more difficult circumstances. When times get tougher we already have the reference experience to fall back to. In other terms – it is healthy.
Deliberately putting ourselves through challenges requieres courage. When we get into the habit of doing things the hard way we are conditioning ourselves to exceed at everything easier. Making our life and environment less comfortable is important because it will prepare us for the worst situation.
After reading this which one would you choose – having an easy or a tough life?