It’s a brave easy new world. Cars, food, toothbrushes, mattresses can all be ordered in seconds from the touch of our fingertips. We don’t even have to click buttons anymore, can just have our voice device do it. These companies profit from our willingness to put in the least amount of effort and take the road most paved. We just sit back and engage. Just listen to a few commercials these days. They all begin with, “We’re making it easier…” Easier to buy a car, easier to find a hotel, easier to lose weight. Oh wait — you’re not watching the commercials? That’s right, because your DVR has made it easy for you to watch only what you want — nothing else. Easy. I call this “The Easy Epidemic.” We don’t have to get off the couch, not even to buy a new one! We can do everything from our phone, often with just the touch of ONE button (or voice activation if you’re that lazy.) Kids cannot write, they can text. Just the other day, my email auto-populated what it thought I MIGHT say. It’s out of control.
The problem with all of these shortcuts? It’s gone awry. Two-hundred years ago I would have advocated for innovation. Enough with the horse-drawn carriages, smallpox, and seven-day workweeks. But now? The absence of that which takes effort is crushing us, creating an epidemic of obesity, depression, and disconnection. We are solitary, sick, and sedentary. Just check the latest physical and mental health stats in this new easy world.
The truth is, we NEED adversity and challenge. That dopamine rush, the feel-good sensation that floods your brain after you’ve overcome something tough — that is HARD to replicate. Yes, that little buzz you experience after scrolling on Instagram’s slot-machine interface is close, but nothing can mimic the experience of overcoming a true obstacle, one that you fight for.
We are wired to overcome obstacles. Hundreds of years ago, our struggle was finding three meals a day and fighting of sabertooth tigers. Now it’s finding Wi-Fi and a cell phone charger. What we have to remember is that with this change, we have to adapt to avoid becoming helpless. It’s now our job to build mental resilience in ourselves and move towards what is difficult.
How do you do that?
Challenge yourself! Do something hard! Take a cold shower, wake up early, get comfortable doing uncomfortable things, build “mental calluses!” Not sure those things are up your alley? Fine. Start by sitting through a commercial, heating up your meal on the stove in a pot — not in the microwave — or driving to pick up your food instead of having it delivered. Come on people, we’ve got to start somewhere.
You’ll see that when you start to shift just a little bit towards not always taking the easy route, you’ll feel more capable of taking on the larger challenges. When you change your frame of reference by getting more uncomfortable, you learn that the small problems — like late Uber rides and failed deliveries from Amazon — mean absolutely nothing.