“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain or difficulty…I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and lead them well.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Somehow in my generation, this lie has been perfectly sold with massive success and acceptance. We think it as the ideal and think ourselves unfortunate if it is not our reality.
Just what is this lie? It is the utopian ideal that life is supposed to be easy.
If you check popular psychology, popular advertising, music videos, the spartan way of life, of discipline, perseverance, surmounting obstacles is never something that is glamourized. It is all about the suddenly not the uninspiring gradually.
The easy way, the smooth path, effortless success, glamour and glitz is the main propaganda being sold. The message is consistent – you can have it all with the minimum input of effort.
7 days to a toned body. 3 days to transform your life. 10 things that will change your life in an instant. These magic formulas for success is an indication of the spirit of our age – an inordinate obsession with the quick fix, the easy life.
Beware of expecting a life of ease, it is often the quick road to a spiritless and wasted existence.
Let me show you how this lie plays out in different areas of our lives so we can avoid its trap.
1. Developing Our Talent and Skills
You might have heard it that if you struggle or don’t pick it up quickly, it means you didn’t have a talent for it. Talent can often become the excuse of the lazy and incompetent.
Check out for this symptom if you are never consistent at anything for a long time. It is not smart if you have tried ten different things in the last five years and yet you are not known for one.
There is a phase of experimentation. Also, there is a phase to sink in your roots. Developing roots often means ploughing hard grounds. This is why you shouldn’t give up because the learning curve is slow.
Mastery is a hard process. Only motivation makes it easier to deal with.
The media might have sold you on effortless talent but let Michelangelo, one of the greatest painters and sculptors of all time correct this notion, “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”
2. Character and Spiritual Growth
C. S. Lewis said, “The safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
It is in the area of character and spiritual growth that our pervasive expectation of ease is clearly threatened.
Character and spiritual growth is a daily grind. You can’t leave them to the whims of your feelings. It takes no effort to descend down the slope of perversion but to climb the height of virtue will require every drop of sweat.
Even the Bible says, “…to obtain these gifts, you need more than faith; you must also work hard to be good….” 2Peter1: 5 (TLB)
The only thing I can think of that makes effort easier in this realm is if the creator is allowed daily to do a deep work of love and renewal within us.
Apart from the myriad of factors that can affect the outcome of relationships, one that is an easy culprit in the alarming rate of divorce today is expecting relationships to be easy.
How often are young people getting married or entering into relationships strictly on the wings of emotions, without realizing that love must be disciplined in order to reach its highest potential.
As soon as they stop having that feeling often popularized by their favourite love crooners, they assume it wasn’t genuine in the first place. They believe effort is a sign that it isn’t working or a sign of incompatibility.
What they forget is that mushy feelings don’t hold up in the storms of life that often test every relationship.
Successful marriages, friendships are products of effort, selfless and sacrificial love day in day out, year in year out. Relationships by their nature, when good are often tools to refine and prune us not just to make our lives easy.
My heart bleeds especially for young people like me in this area. Hip Hop music and reality TV has succeeded in selling us a wrong concept of true and enduring riches.
Young men want to get rich and quicker than is normally possible even though their lack of understanding or mastery of the process will mean their inevitable inability to sustain the wealth.
The implication is that they resort to get-rich-quick schemes, crime, drugs just to live on the fast lane.
I read this comment by Aliko Dangote sometimes ago, “I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me 30 years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight.”
Refuse to be lured. Go by the tried and tested path which is often a process. True and lasting wealth is built gradually.
If there is one thing young people need to reclaim, it is the dignity of labour. Work matters and is good. It enables us to be productive, develop our potential, provides channels to make a contribution and be a blessing to those around us.
5. Fulfilment of Potential
Jim Rohn said, “Don’t wish it were easier. Wish you were better.”
In order to fulfil your potential, you will need to let go of your comfort zone, to stretch, to learn new things, to feel insecure, to struggle and to rise above your difficulties.”
In case maximizing your potential matters to you, keep the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The height by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”
Let E.W. Kenyon’s words guide you, “Make your brain work. It will sweat, but make it work. It will improve. It will develop until you become a wonder to those around you.”
Let’s Have a Conversation
In what ways have you bought into the concept of a life of ease? Do you think it’s working for you? How do you think it hurts the fulfillment of your potential? What measures will you take to resist the pull of ease or the road of least resistance?