The above quote does a great job of summarising a huge amount of the content that I push through this blog, most of which draws on the founding tenets of stoic philosophy. In essence it is saying that if we want to get ahead in any area of life then first we must push through some difficult decisions. If we fail to do so then things can get pretty difficult for us pretty quickly. In this post I want to briefly examine some of the aspects of life we regularly discuss and how this theory might play out in them.
When things get a bit difficult or something goes wrong which is easier? To get upset, angry and frustrated, throw your hands in the air and sulk. Or to face it head on, manage the emotional response, see the challenge for what it is, find the opportunity within it and push onwards? Without doubt we are predicated towards the former. It is easy to get emotional, it is hard to exercise emotional control. Yet, in the long term, how easy will life be if we can exercise this control. rather than being triggered and set off by every little challenge we can press on?
When you've had a long day and you're shattered which is easier? Going home via McDonalds or getting in and cooking an actual meal from scratch? is it easier to just grab something on the go or prepare something the night before? Nowhere does this easy vs hard choice dilemna play out more obviously than in the field of nutrition. That short term ease soon turns into dipping energy levels, an expanding waistline and a host of fun medical issues. The tough choice of making the effort in the short term however pays off in a big way and makes many of the other tough choices in life a little bit easier.
When you have to stop late at work is it easier to sack the gym off and head home to the sofa or dig in and keep the commitment? When you've got an injury is it easier to take a painkiller or get up and do some rehab? As with nutrition our easy choices may not show their ill effects immediately however they will quickly make life harder. When you have a reasonable level of strength, flexibility and endurance day to day life is pretty easy, without these walking up stairs, carrying shopping and getting out of a chair all become an ordeal in themselves.
When you're exhausted and lying on the sofa is it easier to passively commit to one more episode on Netflix and another quick flick through Facebook or hauling yourself to bed? When it's late and your Whatsapp group is kicking off is it easier to stay plugged into the conversation or quietly flick your phone to airplane mode? Sleep is not just about our long term health but also our day to day performance. It has a profound effect on how we feel, think and even look yet we so regularly give in to the easy choices and let interruptions prevent us getting the shuteye we desperately need.
Hopefully by working through the examples above you have been able to see how the little choices we make each day profoundly effect the quality of the rest of our lives. Taking this on board the take away from today's post is to ask yourself a simple question each day... How many difficult choices did I make? If the answer is not many then that might be something you want to start changing.