In other words, any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long term growth, health, or integrity. Or, expressed another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower self. Any of these will elicit resistance.Steven Pressfield
The things that make life worth living feel like difficulty in the middle.
I’ve learned that no matter what — a good economy, or a bad economy — there is money to be made. No matter what — a busy schedule, or an empty one — there are worthwhile projects to complete. No matter what — relational health or turmoil — there are people worth protecting.
Human nature isn’t programmed to live in constant safety & surplus.
One of the more challenging problems I’ve experienced in the last decade is what happens to me when things are too easy. There almost has to be problem somewhere worth solving. The alternative is boredom, which is the worst state you can find yourself in.
People talk about burnout as if it’s the most dangerous state of their professional lives, but it’s not. Boredom is worse. Boredom will feel like burnout because it sucks away your energy and causes you to “not care” anymore.
Burnout is not a fun place to be, but it can be fixed and it is relatively simple to identify. Boredom HIDES, and while it hides it steals. There is this dangerous tug of war then, between pushing yourself beyond your limits, but not for too long that it harms you.
Use It Or Lose It
If you go too long with too low of a resistance threshold, you’re going to atrophy. Atrophy is when you lose muscular development. In layman’s terms, you become weak.
If you go too hard for too long, then you’ll burn out, but that’s not as severe of a risk — not in my opinion, at least. If you’re close to burnout, you’re going to know it. But most people are chronically unhappy because they’re lazy, not because they’re working too hard or burning the candle at both ends.
If you want to live the good life you need to learn to crave the things that elicit resistance. Search for them, then walk right into them.
This morning I woke up at 4:55 AM, went right outside, got into a cold bath because it sucks, and spent the next 45 minutes reading business reports that I need to digest for decisions later. I will reward myself later by reading something I enjoy and going for a walk.
It’s not that my entire life is heavy and arduous; that isn’t what I’m suggesting.
My choices reflect 2nd order consequences. I am aware, by painful trial & error, that the harder it is for me to do something, the more yield is likely on the other side of it. If for no other “award” than bragging rights, I can say (to myself) that I did something I did not want to do… and I did not die in the middle of it.
Your brain is primarily worried about two things:
- Physical death
- Being alone
Evolution is hardwired to prevent these two things.
Evolution does not recognize 2nd order consequences very well, because 10,000 years ago they didn’t really exist. There was no “2nd order” to getting eaten or falling off a cliff into a river.
Today, however, our lives are too easy. They are potent with luxury & distraction. Today, we live in a damaging loop of “first order easy, second order atrophy.”
In short, you don’t really have that much to be afraid of — the list of things that can really hurt you is all internal; chief amongst those things is a bias towards easy. At the end of my life I want to be able to say that my life was hard but worthwhile.
The easy life is not worth living.
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