Updated: Aug 24
The other day I was thinking about how many of the most fundamental things in life are simple, but not easy.
It's simple to lose weight. You just eat fewer calories than you burn. But is it is easy? Not for most! If it was easy, then there wouldn't be a multi-million-pound industry teaching us how to lose weight.
It's simple to make money at business. You just create value and find enough customers who value you and your product enough to pay you for that value. But it's definitely not easy. If it was easy, then you wouldn't have so many failed businesses, frustrated business owners and marketing companies selling you the golden ticket to financial freedom and abundant riches.
It's simple to be a parent. You just give birth and then, well, you are one! Is it easy? No. Even the most dedicated of parents would say that being any kind of parent is the hardest thing they've ever done.
It's simple, in theory, to stay married. You just decide to never get divorced. But most married people would say that staying out of the courtroom and working it out together after 5, 10, 50 years is far from easy.
So why is it that these things, which are simple in theory, are actually extremely difficult?
Is it because these things are not, in actual fact, simple at all? Or is it because they are simple but our issues, our hang-ups, fears, need for perfection, need for better and faster, persists in creating stumbling blocks and obstacles on an otherwise relatively straight path to success.
When I speak to my parents, they always say that life was simpler back then. Marriage for life was expected and, as such, you just worked it out. No one had any money and so they were happy with what they had. They started successful, long-lasting businesses and careers with little capital, connections or education. They say that today's young parents make a meal out of parenting with their elaborate schedules and routines and, in their day, we just slept anywhere and ate anything and turned out just fine.
Today, maybe we have higher expectations from our life, our careers and our relationships. We want to do better, even if we are not competing and comparing with others, but for ourselves, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is progress, in a sense.
But at what point does this constant striving for a shorter, better, more scenic route mean that we are actually over-complicating and, ultimately, sabotaging a simple formula? The fact is we know, more or less, what we need to do to have a good relationship, to lose weight, to be a good parent, to stay married, to have a successful business, but the answer is not sexy, because it's not quick, it's not spectacular, there is no groundbreaking, revolutionary, patentable formula.
And I think maybe that's why we don't want to accept the simple answer. Because knowledge that everyone has access to, that is freely available to everyone if they want to use it, is boring. We feel that our intelligence is being insulted or someone is being deliberately slick if they suggest the obvious solution because it is an answer so simple that our monkey mind, which feeds on stimulation and shock value, can't accept it at all.
We want a more scenic route to a good marriage - we don't want to just walk the route that takes in the paths of fidelity, honesty and good communication. So, instead, we blame the other person for not making us happy. We look at all the things on offer for children nowadays and forget that no parent was a good parent who didn't spend quality time with their children and offer support and unconditional love. We don't want to hear that solid businesses and careers take years of dedication to create consistent results, that they demonstrate care and quality, and take time to build loyalty, because we would rather make a million overnight.
The thing is these things are relatively simple. But they are not easy, and one of the reasons why we find them anything but easy is because easy is boring and no-one likes boring anymore. Boring is probably worse than failing. So we would rather sabotage the simple path because, God help us, we cannot abide boring!
My conclusion is that it must, in large part, be our wavering mind, sabotaging beliefs and refusal to walk the boring, straight path to success that creates stress for us in key areas of life. Noting this is helpful because it eliminates the temptation to overcomplicate things and gets us to the heart of the matter.
It makes you ask yourself, where are you going, what are you trying to achieve and why are you avoiding the simple way of getting there? It's a little uncomfortable to ask the last part of that question, in particular. Why are we avoiding the simple path? But I am sure if we reflected on that, the answer would be somehow enlightening and would show us the ways in which we get in our own way.
What do you think? Is life actually simple ..... or is it me that's being simple? Let me know!