Updated: Jun 5, 2021
It's easy to think that trying to do more and putting extra effort into day-to-day life is paradoxical when the payoff is making our lives easier. After all, by definition, if something requires more effort, it is more difficult, so isn't this just the same thing with extra steps?Well, not exactly. It's easy to follow the logic, however making things difficult for yourself (by which I mean making yourself do more and use more energy in what you do) is a World away from things making your life difficult.
Firstly, we choose what we do; we're not being subjected to an external cause of misery, for instance. If we choose to force ourselves to get up and do the dishes, then we not only find momentum in becoming busy and being productive, but also a sense of personal satisfaction. "Look what I did without being forced" feels better than "I got pestered to do the dishes under threat of being in an argument." Of course, washing up is only one element of this. There is of course plenty more we can do. We can make ourselves call up the dentist and schedule an appointment despite being nervous on the phone, we can actually go to the dentist despite being scared of them. Think of the sense of pride which accompanies that; it's certainly not negligeable.
In fact, these things are all positives. Not only in the fact that they make doing hard things and exerting some force of will easier, but also in that they benefit us directly. Now our dishes are done and aren't piling up and being messy, now our teeth are sorted and we don't need extensive dental treatment to rectify anything. By being proactive, we've saved ourselves a lot of trouble, and it's a similar story in most things.
If you've read the book or some more of my work, you may know that doing uncomfortable things is wonderfully positive. Putting yourself in that position means you're in control of yourself and you've conquered your own impulses which tell you to act out of fear, anger or arousal among other things. This is the same when it comes to facing your more emotional and psychological problems. Make yourself apologise to someone before you're devoured by guilt, communicate before you're consumed by resentment and learn to let go of your ego before someone damages it too much and fundamentally hurts you.
It's difficult to put in that effort, yet it's more than worthwhile in the end. Invest time in building up your character now in order for your future to be easier. In most computer games, you can choose the difficulty setting at the beginning. Why make the decision for it to be hard when you don't need to struggle as much? Simply because it can be more entertaining, and moreover, compared to someone who sets it to easy mode, at the end of your run, you'll have learnt more, developed more and you'll be better at it. And that's a highly suitable analogy for the difficulty for which you set your life too.
You may remember the cycle of misery or the cycle of happiness from H²ELP (which I hope you've read by now). I shall briefly recap it here just in case;
When you find yourself in a miserable state and wonder why that is, one way of finding the problem is with this cycle. If you're unhappy, you might feel as though you've not accomplished much and that you're not proud of yourself. This lack of accomplishment stems from a lack of productivity, which itself comes from little to no motivation. Of course, our motivation naturally comes down to our general happiness, and thus the cycle repeats itself, making us more and more miserable.
The only conscious way of helping ourselves out of such a spin is by motivating ourselves. It's the only aspect over which we hold any sway. We can't be happy with no cause, we can't be proud without having done anything and we can't do anything without the motivation to do it, by its own definition. By "motivation" I mean "the act of overcoming our natural predisposition to not do something and doing it." The classic example I use is getting out of bed when it's cold. We don't really want to get out; we're inclined to sleep and rest as much as possible by our animalistic nature, yet we can make ourselves get up at any moment. Overcoming that desire to not move is motivation. We consciously will to make ourselves to defy gravity and the snooze button, and this is a demonstration of being motivated, by this definition.
So we know we can motivate ourselves, but nothing else, but that means we can start to reverse our cycle. We can motivate ourselves bit by bit to be more productive, as we produce, we make things and we 're proud of them which makes us happy. In turn, this happiness gives us more motivation and the cycle continues positively.
Inspiration is when an external source makes us overcome our predispositions. We can be threatened at gunpoint to hand over a wallet, for example. We wouldn't usually do that, for the most part, but the threat of death is strong enough for us to overcome that. A less awful example is when we want to impress someone and make them things like daisy chains or buy them flowers and things. We're inspired to do this by the person, or at least by the thought of pleasing them.
As you progress and spin our cycle in the positive direction, keep track of how you feel about yourself. Perhaps mark down somewhere the days you feel good about yourself of the days you feel like you've accomplished something. You may notice that the more you do, the more motivated you become and the more productive you are as a result, the more often you feel good. Keeping track of it just serves as a good reminder of what you're doing and why. Why you make your life a little bit harder for yourself and how you reap the rewards. After a while, your own progress will start to inspire you, will start to propel you forwards even more, and you become a self-sustaining windmill of positivity and productivity.
Being proud of what you've accomplished isn't vain if you feel like you've earned the right to be proud. Even if it's a small victory. Even if it's phoning up your energy supplier to complain and you've been really anxious about making that call for a while. It may seem minor to someone else, but what matters is how you feel. If you're pleased, proud or impressed, then don't be afraid of it. You've shown yourself that you can put in that effort and make something out of your day, and so you know you can keep going!
Aim to be pleased with yourself and everything else will come naturally with that. You're not a failure, and you always have the potential to change if that's what you think you need and want. So what's holding you back?