The Easier Life Gets, The Harder it Becomes.

Every single invention that ever happens is designed to make life easier for us. Why would anything ever be invented to make life more difficult? Let’s go back to what is considered the best invention ever – the wheel! Can you imagine the joy when that one arrived in everybody’s cave! Revolutionary. The spear, the shield, the plough…I promise you as I’m typing these words, a truck has pulled up outside with a fork lift truck attached to the back.

Everything is invented to make life easier and we keep going at an alarming rate. If you don’t agree with me, perhaps this evening you could think it over while you’re eating meat and plants that somebody has hunted, grown, prepared, cooked and delivered to you in a car after you’ve pressed a button on your phone!

Is it so good on every level that we do this? Is there a cost? Is it so amazing that we keep making life easier and easier with every single idea that materialises?

Let’s look at what’s happened to us as a result?

  • We are fatter than ever.
  • We are more sick than ever.
  • Cancer is at an all time high.
  • Heart disease is killing us more than ever.
  • We are more depressed.
  • Suicide is up.
  • Childhood obesity is rocketing.
  • We aren’t as happy.

I haven’t put links to studies with all those facts but they are there. Go search for them and you will see they are all on the up. You may even be in one of those categories or have a loved one that has died as a result.

All that of course is correlation and not necessarily causation but we could use an example to illustrate my point. Take what I said earlier about someone delivering cooked food to your door. This cooked food by the way is ALWAYS highly processed, highly calorific junk. Nobody has ever had broccoli and cauliflower cooked and delivered. Compare that to growing, picking, hunting, carrying back home and cooking that food and you’ll see so much energy expenditure goes into the latter option. It’s clearly obvious then that we will be fatter as a result and if we keep eating nutritionally devoid foods then we will be sicker too.

You could argue it’s a time saver so is better for us? In what way? So we can work at a computer longer and increase chronic stress? For every invention to make life easier you can argue there is a consequence to our health and it is only getting worse because next up will be lying on the settee and yelling “Hey Alexa, send my favourite pizza and ice cream now.” It’s actually gross.

An important point to note here is that this will not change. As I’ve said many times before, the human body is hard wired to move less and store energy. Why? Because in the past we had famine. Food was, at times, scarce and the human body beautifully developed to store energy. This is one of the reasons the human being is top of the species. So get used to it, inventions to make life easier will continue and we will become less active and fatter which means more unhappy as a result.

So what is the answer to not be fat, sick and unhappy? To get more active and lean? How are we going to do it when the system of time and energy savings is against us?

The answer is we have to consciously choose the hard option because after achieving the hard option there is health and happiness – even if it is at the sacrifice of not sending more emails than we could have done that day.

Times have changed. Millions of years of evolution has changed in literally the last hundred years. We have always had to work physically hard to get what we want e.g. the best looking partner to reproduce with or the best food to eat. The harder we work the greater the reward. Now it’s different. We can buy it and we often buy it with money that’s been made sitting in a sheltered, heated or air conditioned room staring at a flat screen.

It’s money worked for, it’s money earned but it doesn’t make us feel good on a level that has us connected with nature and our physical ability to complete a task. We have to then, go out and seek that hard challenge to feel those intrinsic rewards. They are the most important rewards for happiness. What throughout time we have wanted to avoid because it costs energy and is dangerous, we now have to consciously seek out in order to avoid stagnating and ultimately dying. We have to search for these things because they make us feel happy!

They don’t give us temporary pleasure like extrinsic pleasures – a new coat or a new car – they make us long term happy and if we are long term happy we are less likely to consume toxic substances which means life gets easier. Important point that was!

What then am I talking about? What are the hard options we have to look for that will make us happy in the long term?

Have you ever noticed when you’re scrolling through Facebook or Instagram the way you feel when you see certain photographs? You might see one of somebody in new clothes eating food in a fancy restaurant and the next story might be somebody standing on top of a mountain they’ve spent hours climbing that day.

Which photo makes you feel “happier”? Happier! I’m not saying which photo makes you “think” you would be happier if you were in it yourself I mean what makes you happier by looking at it? The answer of course is the mountain climb and that’s because the people in that photo put hard work into being able to have the picture taken. Hard work makes us feel good.

I’ll give you another example closer to home; you’ve spent the day in the garden mowing, weeding, pruning, digging, tidying. What gives you greater happiness; looking at what you’ve accomplished or standing in the new dress and shoes you’ve bought? Yep, hard work tops out again. Caveat here is if you do feel happy in your new dress and shoes it’s because you will have worked hard for the money to pay for them. Try feeling happy if you’ve bought them on credit. You’ll feel sick the moment your insta likes have finished.

Yes hard work tops out every time, will always make us feel happier and as a lovely side effect will steer us away from the modern lifestyle trait which is permanent pleasure seeking.

  • Choosing to do hard work is easy.
  • You want to get a qualification? Enrolling is easy.
  • You want to save money? Opening a savings account is easy.
  • You want to lose weight? Buying salad is easy.
  • You want to get fit? Joining a gym is easy.

What isn’t easy is studying, putting money away you can’t get at, not driving to the shop for chocolate and lifting weights. All those require hard work! But if you receive your cap and gown, have money and look, feel and perform better you will be happier than ever!

Is it time then that we need to start choosing the hard option a little more? Maybe create a bit of balance? Have some pizza and a few beers (easy option) but then counter it with vegetables and tossing a heavy sandbag around (hard option)?

The short answer is Yes. Yes we do and despite what a lot may think, this is a message I constantly preach. Nobody (well me for one) has ever said you’ve got to be a fitness freak, train like a maniac six times per week and then eat grilled skinless chicken breasts and broccoli every meal. To do that would leave you without any pleasure and pleasure is important just like happiness. But…you have to do that sometimes – most of the time in fact because the more times you choose hard, the happier you will be.

From a business standpoint, selling pleasure (easy option) is an easier sale. Look at how many takeaways and off licenses there are compared to shops that ask you to go inside and pay them to unblock their drains (hard option) but perhaps we have to start taking care of ourselves, seeing past the constant marketing to relax and enjoy ourselves and flip it the other way for long term happiness? Because if we don’t, we might possibly die too soon.

What then are some ways to feel amazing, be fit, healthy and happy by choosing the hard option? How might you build them into a day to leave you fulfilled by the time you go to bed?

We could look at a typical working day for many of us:

  • Alarm goes off. Don’t hit snooze but get up. Hard
  • Miss going straight for cereal. Hard
  • Get to the gym. Hard
  • Take a warm shower. Easy
  • Withhold from food. Hard
  • Work with full focus. Hard
  • Break. Choose to walk or drink water/tea/black coffee above cigarettes or some calorific speciality coffee. Hard
  • Work with full focus. Hard
  • Cook real food instead of ordering in or eating out. Hard
  • Stay off whatever is damaging your health in the evening. Hard
  • Read book that benefits your goal instead of watching tv. Hard
  • Go to bed early. Easy

As you can see, so many of those choices take the hard path but compare them to their easy alternatives and you can see that life will be much happier after choosing the difficult route.

My favourite time to enjoy pressing the hard button is when it comes to the weekend. It is a joy to get up on a Saturday or Sunday and do something difficult like gardening, clearing junk or going for a massive hike or bike ride. It’s good honest hard work that when completed makes us feel good about ourselves. Getting up and going straight to somewhere fancy for breakfast is too easy. The breakfast hasn’t been earned and doesn’t taste as good as a result and if you look at the people eating, it kind of sticks out who hasn’t worked hard for it.

What often happens if we begin pressing easy in the morning is it continues for the rest of the day as we chase the high, not realising the high will never get better, only worse until we press hard again.

Perhaps there has come a time where all of us, in order to be happier, healthier, more fulfilled and successful have to select the hard option a lot more than we are doing because as somebody once said to me…

“If life feel’s too easy, you ain’t doing it right!”