Have you been brainwashed to struggle through life? How to tell: you begin your day tired and feeling like you’re already behind, you complain more often than you express your gratitude, you finish the day lamenting all the tasks that didn’t get done, and you wouldn’t describe your life as “fun” or “fulfilling.”
You might say you’re just trying to survive.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Modern Western culture is steeped in a “what’s wrong?” mentality.
Nearly from birth, we’re urged to accomplish more, get things done, work hard and play hard, just do it, never give up, endure pain to receive gain, and a whole bunch of other malarkey. Our main focus is on the problems or things that aren’t working well.
This way of living is making us stressed and sick. It holds us back from all the things that we really want to do in life.
What if I told you that you could have a life full of ease, right here, right now?
Some common responses:
- Yeah, when I win the lottery, maybe.
- I just don’t have time for that!
- Sounds nice and all, but it ain’t me, babe.
- Get real.
- “Life is pain, Highness.” (William Goldman)
These are beliefs that we’ve held for most of our lives. They are the lens through which you view life and how to experience it. But that doesn’t mean that they’re right for you, or helpful in any way.
I’ve been exploring this theme of ease for a while now. What have I discovered?
I’m not only happier, but more productive and successful, when I’m focused on ease.
Yes, you read that correctly.
It’s true for my writing, my career, my relationships, and all aspects of life.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t work hard, or even play hard sometimes. It’s all in the attitude. Instead of that stressful, go-go-go mentality, I’ve embraced going with the flow.
Let’s use writing as an illustration of what I mean. Say you have some writing to do – whether it’s a blog post, an important email, or a book draft. You sit down to write. When you approach it as another task to quickly check off the to-do list, or you’re pressured by a deadline, you might freeze up. Or maybe the writing is choppy and not flowing. You keep going back over the same sentence, trying to polish it. It’s taking forever! Perhaps you persevere, and the article is actually pretty good – but you hated the entire process and couldn’t wait to be done.
Now imagine sitting down to write from a place of excitement. You’ve been thinking about what you’re going to say, maybe while you sipped your morning coffee or prepared breakfast. Over the past few days, you jotted down some ideas and phrases in a journal that you’d like to include. You put on your writing playlist, light a candle, and sit down at your laptop. You take a deep breath and let the words flow onto the page, without censoring yourself. After you take a break to walk the dog or put the kettle on, you go back to what you’ve written and begin to shape the draft into a final product. You feel accomplished and inspired.
In the second scenario – at least in my experience – you took less time to finish your writing. You felt great throughout the process. The energy you brought to your writing comes across in the final version.
It’s about the energy, the attitude, the way you approach each task. Imagine bringing this ease to all the other things you do in your daily life: grocery shopping, driving to work or school, paying bills, having a conversation, or participating in a meeting.
Ease isn’t about not having to do anything. It’s not about wealth. It doesn’t mean you’re being lazy. It’s not even about denying your pain or your problems.
Approaching each moment with ease means realizing that this life is a gift. You get to do these things. You can focus on what’s delightful. You get to choose how your life unfolds, to some extent – but even more importantly, you get to choose, in each moment, how you respond.
You didn’t come here to this life to struggle. Yes, you are here to learn lessons and to grow – but who said learning couldn’t be fun and easy? (Oh yeah – the outdated industrialized school system that teaches that one-size-fits-all. Screw that.)
You deserve to live a life of ease, just by virtue of your existence. In fact, it will make you a more productive member of society. You’ll be healthier, and more able to give of yourself. There’s actually no rule stating that struggling is virtuous – or not one that you’re obliged to buy into. Just because people in the past did it that way doesn’t mean you have to follow in their unhappy footsteps. Truly.
Paradoxically, living with more ease allows you to get more done, and to feel so much better along the way. You’re more likely to pursue your most cherished dreams, and to take the time to do things that you truly love and enjoy. You’ll prioritize time with loved ones over rushing around doing meaningless things.
Try it. What have you got to lose? A bunch of stress, guilt, and just-getting-by? How’s that working out for you?