Blogpost, self-reliance

The Easiest Things

The easiest things are often the wrong things. OH! How I wish this was not the truth! I’d love it if chocolate ice cream made you thinner and sitting on the couch was the key to physical fitness. Unfortunately, neither is true and so many other easy answers come up empty. While the list of easy answers is long, I only want to focus on two: giving up and hatred. Although they have a ton of company as easy answers, they may be the most problematic.

Giving up is easy because it truly is a lack of action. Doing nothing is far easier than doing something. Therefore, giving up is the ultimate in easy answers to any situation. As soon as a task becomes too difficult (or even before that point), giving up is bound to be easier than continuing. That is exactly why it is such a problem. Giving up takes no effort but it is also bound to lead to no results either. The reason that I point it out now is the pervasiveness with which I see it show up in the world. People don’t just give up, they come up with the stories and statistics to make themselves feel better possibly even justified in giving up. I get it! No one wants to feel badly, especially about themselves. However, discerning when to give up and when to “stick it out” is a muscle that needs to be developed. If the default answer is just to give up, then the “stick it out” muscle never gets developed and every endeavor of value becomes a loss.

The other easy thing is hatred. Yet again, it takes almost no effort. Hatred is a strong emotion that can drain energy but it takes no real thought or discernment. In recent years, people seem to have gotten more adept at it. Any person or group that does not align with my personal leanings and beliefs, it’s just easier to hate than understand. Curiosity and understanding take mental effort. They are not easy and require a “letting go” of your own point of view for a moment. It’s so much easier to hang onto that viewpoint and add disdain for anyone who disagrees.

The problem with both of these easy things is that neither make the world a better place when they become the status quo. Are there times to give up? Absolutely! Hatred is not an emotion that I allow myself to get to easily (if ever) but I can understand times where it feels appropriate. So the name of the game is deciding on a personal level when to use each. Hopefully we’re not too far gone with either of these. Both seem to have cultural momentum behind them and only through individual decisions can the tide be changed. We are all pieces of a larger whole. No one person can make a societal shift. However, many individual people doing the harder thing can influence change because a good example is something we can follow.

Although they can be seductive, the easiest things are not always the best things. Progress requires effort, doubt can only be removed by action and love is a far better feeling to wrap yourself in than hate. So use your best judgment! You’ve got it within you to do some harder things. Anyone that you respect or hold in high esteem has and wouldn’t you like to feel that way about you too! Self-respect and self-esteem don’t come for free! They’re not easy!

I believe in you! And you should too!


Blogpost, self-reliance

The Caboose of Your Choices

At one point in history, the caboose was a standard part of a train. It served many functions. It was used as lookout point for identifying issues with the cars being towed by the engine. The caboose was also where the crew of the train tended to live. As train technology improved, the caboose was deemed unnecessary and discarded. Although technology made the actual caboose irrelevant, it is possible that it makes our life caboose much more relevant. Allow me to explain.

If you picture your life as a train heading down a track, there are splits in the track everywhere. From moment to moment, you are presented with choices of which direction to go. Some choices you labor over as you see them approach. Others you’ve made so often, you don’t even view them as choices anymore. You just staying on that track. All of those decision are made at the front end based on what you, the engineer, see coming up. In a modern context, things come up fast because the world is moving at an alarming pace. So it is no wonder that as we are moving forward we forget that we live in the caboose.

We forget the fact that when things slow down and the place where we live catches up, those momentary choices may have us in a really bad spot. The choices, that only took an instant, deteriorate as soon as the engine passes by and leave the caboose living in a desert of poor consequences. It’s easy to beat yourself up when the caboose comes along but you need to get the message up to the engine “Remember we’re back here!” I say ‘we’ because there are so many parts of your life living in the caboose: health, relationships, finances, self esteem, etc. So what do you do?

  • Make a plan – decide where it is that you want your caboose to end up and spend most of its days, WRITE IT DOWN!
  • Follow the routes – someone else has done this thing before, follow their procedure
  • Keep that plan in mind – keep the plan somewhere that you will see it often, build habits into your life that perpetuate the plan
  • Stay on track – (pun intended) you know you better than anyone, build processes into your life or take things out that make it more likely that you’ll reach your destination

It’s easy to look at the world and say “there are no tracks”. So you feel like you’re at the mercy of the world. You’re absolutely right! There are no tracks if you don’t lay any but as I said at the beginning, there are some decisions in your life that ceased to be decisions a long time ago. In the future, you want those new habits to be the things that you don’t consider anymore.

This entire post sprung out of a thought that I had while listening to an Impact Theory interview with Trevor Moawad. The interview is amazing and I loved so many parts of it that I’ve listened to it at least ten times already. However I disagreed with his statement about choice being an illusion. I believe that we have the ability to choose but those choices get followed up by a full train that endure the consequences.