Life is Easier When You Take the Stairs
I think what most of us really want is an easier life, not necessarily a more wholesome one. We want less trouble and more enjoyment, probably more so than we want achievement and virtue. But what we often overlook is that embracing difficulty in certain places nets us a lot more ease than our usual “easy” ways. Putting in three hours a week at the gym is easier than being out of shape 24 hours a day. Studying is easier than sitting in an exam room not having studied. Doing a good job at work is easier than wondering when they’ll finally fire you.
I’m used to thinking of ease and difficulty as a pretty straightforward dichotomy: we want more of one and less of the other. And maybe in a sense that’s true, but they are often found in the same place and come together as a package. A small amount of difficulty often serves as the gatekeeper to a large amount of ease.
We end up with needlessly difficult lives because we have trouble recognizing ease when it’s hidden behind difficulty. It’s hard to see, for example, in that difficult moment when you’re about to walk into a gym for the first time, that you are taking the path of greater ease: if you get yourself through that short, difficult experience, your life quickly begins to lose a lot of difficulty. Beyond the gate, your health situation is easier, dating is easier, clothes shopping is easier, and so is virtually any physically demanding task you can think of, possibly for the rest of your life. All of this ease is bought for three hours a week, which themselves quickly (and permanently) become many times easier than they were the first time.And so much more.
Every bit of this resonated with me, and I hope it will do the same for you: