In Praise of Easy

A teacher I admire wrote this in her newsletter:

Beware anyone who tells you what you want can be “easy.”

Easy is a drug.

Easy is not discerning.

Easy is for lazy people.

I didn’t exactly bristle when I read that, but I questioned myself. “Stella thinks easy is bad. I strive for easy. How can those two things co-exist?

I think it’s a matter of definition.

To me, easy doesn’t mean half-assed or lightweight. It’s the feeling of cruising, navigating the rapids of chaotic life. It’s how you know you’re on path, in flow.

Un-ease is a signal that you’re off track. If something you’re attempting is continuously difficult maybe you’re going about it the wrong way.

This is not to say that I don’t value challenges. A full life requires learning and growing and coming back from failure and capitalizing on successes.

I’m not highly motivated by achievement. Nor am I a big fan of blood, sweat, and tears. Okay, I’ll accept the designation that I’m lazy. I do not like doing things the hard way.

And a drug? Meaning a way to avoid reality? I’ve certainly made my share of quick and dirty choices.

But I take issue with “not discerning.” I can discern with the best of them. Ease can be an effective tool to distinguish right from wrong.

Here’s an example. Laura’s marketing advisor tells her she should call up potential clients and talk to them about her upcoming class. Laura resists. She knows that personal contact is important but the thought of making those calls fills her with dread. She can’t bring herself to do it. Then Laura gets an idea. She can invite those same people to a coffee date with a Facebook message. The idea of having coffee with someone fills her with energy and excitement. That’s her style. That feels doable, even easy. The onerous marketing task gets done.

Some of us have an inner demon that tells us “my way is the wrong way.” In order to be good, to be worthwhile something has to be difficult. No pain no gain.

I take issue with that.

Moving beyond your comfort zone is essential to growth, but to me there is a difference between challenging and difficult. Challenging entices you. It beckons with a sly grin and says, “You know you want this.” Difficult slams doors in your face. It creates barriers that are only frustrating not educational. Difficult wastes your time.

So the point here is to use the degree of ease as a measurement tool. Examine your goals. Are you challenged or frustrated? Is something so easy that you aren’t making any progress? Is it so frustrating that you’ve given up?

How might you adjust your approach in a way that turns something onerous to intriguing– like Laura making coffee dates instead of cold calls.

There is no shame in easy when it’s expressing the essential you.


Originally published at lizsumner.com on January 11, 2017.

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