How to make hard things easy

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I live in a land of temperature extremes. In a typical year my city will see both 35 degrees Celsius and minus 35 (that’s 95 and -31 to Americans.) We have the greatest range of temperatures of any major city in the world. Average temperature is slightly lower than Moscow. Humidity and wind chill stretch these extremes further.

Our dramatic climate constitutes a large part of our modest civic pride. It’s particularly relevant to me though, because my day job has me working with my hands, outside, all times of year.

Construction crews know how to build things — roads, pipes, hydrants, and buildings — but they couldn’t possibly build them in the right place without a professional surveyor staking them out. That’s what I do. I read engineering drawings and mark exactly (to the inch) where all the new stuff belongs in the real world. Thousands of years ago, this was done using wooden stakes pounded into the ground at carefully measured-in points, and they have not yet found a better way.

Most construction happens in the summer. I find the points while a student assistant does most of the hammering. In winter, the construction season is on an outbreath and the industry slows way down. The students are gone, so two or three surveyors team up to create overqualified super-crews of stake-holders and hammerers. Many of my workdays, another surveyor does the technical stuff and so I become essentially a manual laborer.

Minus 35 is something everyone should experience at least once. The air shimmers with cold. When you inhale, the inside of your nostrils freeze. Your breath comes out in clouds. If there’s a breeze and some of your skin is exposed, say between your glove and the cuff of your coat, it feels like it’s being cut with a knife. But you wear layers, you keep moving, and you make sure to find a job for the extremities that tend to go numb first.

Worst of all for the surveyor, the ground is about as soft as a brick. Wooden stakes shatter when you try to hammer them in. So we must always first pound in an iron bar to make a hole.

Even with a pointed iron bar it’s almost impossible to make a hole if you’ve never done it before. If you don’t hit it dead-centre, often the bar bounces right out. It takes several great, two-handed swings with a ten-pound sledgehammer to make any progress, which means someone else has to crouch down and hold the bar for the hammer guy.

It becomes a cogent exercise in trust. A miss could be disastrous for the wrist-bones of the holder, but the hammer needs to be swung hard, and we have to do this thousands of times. Being the hammerer is actually scarier than being the holder — I would rather get hit with a sledgehammer than hit someone. After working a few weeks with a particular partner, a person gets less nervous and it feels a whole lot safer. The upside to swinging the sledge is that you stay warm. 

The whole process — working in bitter cold, and fighting such a hard physical battle for every stake — was always draining mentally, even when I was just thinking about having to do it the next day. I hated that I had to do it. It’s hard to even wake up, knowing how many of these little battles have to be endured just to get to the next day (on a slow day we’ll put in about fifty.)

How hard gets easy

Most of us have regular appointments with little things that always feel hard, usually a certain necessary part of your job or your personal commitments. Talking to a particular manager. Doing inventory. Performing a particular exercise in your workout. Cleaning the pots under the stove elements. Impending hard parts preoccupy us, which creates a draining effect on the easy parts.

It’s normal to prefer easy over hard. If there’s a way we can do something easy instead, without triggering any apparent consequences, we take it by default. We tend to think of easy as if it’s categorically a better deal. But it’s usually not, and here’s why.

Because I didn’t go traveling during the off-season, I did more winter sledgehammering this winter than ever, and at some point I found myself volunteering to do the hammering rather than avoiding it. Now when it’s time to do some winter staking I have no resistance to it. Waking up knowing I have to hammer fifty stakes in doesn’t faze me anymore.

That’s because of a wonderful law of reality: hard becomes easy. Almost everything that’s easy for you now was at one time hard.

What makes something hard is your emotional relationship to it, not what the thing actually is. Hard becomes easy, if you do it willingly while it’s still hard.

The biggest factor in getting something to go from hard to easy is normally exposure. The more you encounter something, the less intimidating it gets. Your emotional relationship changes. There’s less uncertainty, your skill in dealing with it improves, your resentment for it fades, your craving for ease or salvation disappears. It has become easy.

So if you have a bit of foresight, the easiest thing to do is to make the hard things easy. You make the hard things harder when you let yourself fall into a habit of avoiding them.

Normally we drag our feet all the way to the easy-point, so it stays hard as long as possible. A society that values convenience and technological solutions teaches us to overvalue the easy and to undervalue the hard. We try to escape the hard parts as often as possible, limiting our exposure and justifying our psychological resistance to it. We seldom come to something hard with the intention to get to the point where it’s easy. So what we’re really doing is ensuring that we experience as much “hard” as possible.

We’ve all seen this ease-seeking behavior in its extremes: people who only eat fast food, let the dishes pile above the faucet, or depend on the TV for most of their entertainment. Their lives are actually harder than those of people more inclined to address the “hard” things willingly, because they regard the easy option as a better deal.

We know this is ridiculous. We’ve all been watching hard things become easy our entire lives, but we still trust and even celebrate our resistance to them. We like to complain about the hard stuff we have to deal with, and often people validate us, and take the chance to share their own. It’s a big part of our culture. See any reality show for examples.

I’m beginning to retrain my impulses to regard the harder bits of life as more attractive, because the hard points reliably mark the places where you gain the most ground — which is to say the hard things offer more ease at the end of the day than the easy ones do.

This is upside-down from how I learned to approach the hard things and you’re probably no different. This winter’s survey work would have been a breeze all the way through if I’d understood how quickly everything can become easy once you bring willingness to the hard parts.

Approach the hard things like you might approach cleaning a great, filthy plate-glass window covered in smudges, dirt and cobwebs. You’re almost attracted to tackling the grimiest parts first, because that’s where the most ground is to be gained. You create more cleanliness more quickly by seeking out the dirtiest parts.

Reconditioning your reaction towards hard parts reduces the apparent hardness immediately, not just of any given task, but of life as a whole. The payoff is huge. You steadily transform the world around you into an easier, more welcoming one, by making a pretty simple change in perspective. You can finally welcome it all.

Think about it: life consists of alternating bits of hard and easy. So all the world can deliver you is ease, or a chance to create ease. That’s the world I prefer to wake up to.

***

Photo by hmboo


Andy March 18, 2013 at 4:25 am

Thanks David – another great post. I’ve been an advertising copywriter for like 10 years and still find writing hard. I don’t know whether it’s because I lack motivation (it was a job I fell into) or I lack talent. Maybe it’s because writing well is quite a hard thing to do. Although, to be fair, you make it look easy!

David March 18, 2013 at 1:47 pm

It really isn’t easy for me at all, though I am learning not to think of writing as hard anymore. I think writers each develop their own private inferiority complex, because when they see the work of their fellow writers it’s always the revised version, and there’s no evidence of the pain and doubt that went into it. We all think it’s easier for others.

Sean March 18, 2013 at 4:43 am

Spot on again David, reading your blog always brings me focus when my mind starts taking holidays. I’m choosing the difficult way increasingly often these days and it’s paying off in my mental and physical well-being.

Sean March 18, 2013 at 5:47 am

Dear Sean,

Amen to that!

Love,
Sean

P.S. I love (ha!) your post on present continuous tense! You made some very interesting points that had never occurred to me while using fantastic examples to explain yourself. Just sayin. :)

Sean March 20, 2013 at 7:09 am

Thanks other Sean, I’m glad you liked it :)

Arvindh March 18, 2013 at 6:28 am

Good job, David! This is pretty much what I’ve figured out by myself.

Apart from what you’ve said, I feel that fear and laziness are the two biggest reasons I’ve stayed in my comfort zone.

Once again, great stuff!

m March 18, 2013 at 6:50 am

this sounds a bit like “i am doing something that is a complete waste of time, does nothing for my soul, but i am learning to love it in the inner world to silence the pain.” Everything that is not growth or evolution creates resistence in the inner world – this resistence is not because something is hard or easy – it just is.

LL3482 March 18, 2013 at 9:52 am

Sometimes there is a learning curve or a feeling that something is hard even when it is lated to what your soul loves and is begging you to do. Public speaking about your passion perhaps or teaching a large group of strangers about your passion. I love yoga and am currently in teacher training. Sequencing a class was at first very hard because of my emotional relationship to it but each time I dive in and do it, I learn and I feel more comfortable. Hard becomes easy.

David March 18, 2013 at 1:49 pm

This post is about how to address the hard parts of personal commitments each of us has made in life. Whether those are the right commitments for a given person is a different discussion altogether.

Amanda March 18, 2013 at 7:12 am

What a great piece to wake up to Monday morning! I think you live near where I do, civic pride about the cold indeed hehe.

Thank you so much, this is something that can serve as a reminder in so many facets of my life right now. Just need a mantra to tell myself – it’ll get easier. You can get there, you can do it, just keep at it. Thank you :)

David March 18, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Don’t worry about getting “there.” Think of it as “Everything I have to do today will either be something easy, or something I’m making easy.”

meg March 18, 2013 at 8:19 am

This is one of those magic bullets for fear-based thinking, too. Once you’ve become accustomed to facing hardship of any kind, you know you are perfectly capable of getting through it, or just doing it, because it becomes the new “normal.”

David March 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Yes, and I am seeing a shift happen. The “normal” waterline for what’s hard and easy seems to be moving in the easy direction.

Heather Thorkelson March 18, 2013 at 8:21 am

I loved this post David – perfect for a Monday morning. I find that most of the things I find hard…and think about for ages, dreading, are not actually hard when I do them. (Most, not all) You’re spot on when you say it’s your emotional relationship to something that makes it hard. I find now that I start each morning with the hard stuff, and the hard stuff HAS become easier. I have also been shifting my perspective about the bigger items…like being a better writer. I still find writing well really hard, but instead of dreading it, I approach it like a craft and try to improve every time. Instead of dreading it, I look forward to the day when I am actually really good at it, and welcome the practice. It makes it a lot easier to sit down and DO. Thanks for a really thoughtful and relevant piece.

David March 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Shifting my attitude towards writing has been a struggle. It is something I am absolutely committed to, but I have conditioned myself to see it as hard. I often don’t believe I’m able to finish an article if I only have two hours, for example — even though I often succeed when I try. But a shift is happening.

Francesca March 18, 2013 at 8:29 am

I read this post first thing in the morning, and made me feel better about some things about my life. Thanks for sharing your gift of writing with us, David!

Dragline March 18, 2013 at 9:27 am

Nice essay. It sounds like you are living in Mongolia.

David March 18, 2013 at 1:53 pm

We have a few things in common with Mongolia. Temperature extremes and flatness.

Tatiana March 18, 2013 at 10:40 am

I really loved this post. I wanted to tweet the entire thing.

I’ve been thinking about this before, but not to such a degree that you have. I’ve told myself that the difficulty of something is proportional to how willing we are to do it. Like, many things appear very difficult – because I have no intention on learning that thing (say, for example, astrophysics). But there are things others might perceive as hard (like web development) that I enjoy learning and am willing to tackle on a daily basis.

And yes, people tend to avoid the thing that’s “hard” because they’re not sure if they can handle the hardness of it. But the more you do anything, the more you trust yourself to handle that situation which makes it easier because you’re not resisting it as much. So then, people perceive you as being this really fearless and talented person, when instead, you’re just learning to make hard things easy.

David March 18, 2013 at 1:54 pm

I guess that’s what a lot of the willingness to do hard things amounts to: self-trust.

Crystal March 18, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Gosh! David, your thoughts are so inspiring and powerful. Self-trust – got it and working on it.

Pete March 18, 2013 at 10:55 am

Haha, this post is very similar to the conversation my mate Will and I had last night. Easy options lead to stagnation and inner conflict while hard options lead to a much nicer and more welcoming world, as you said.

When that horrible gut feeling tries to talk me out of taking an opportunity because it scares the shit out of me I take that as a green arrow pointing to growth and do the thing anyway. Now I’m working on convincing others to take the hard options in order to make life easy.

Have you read ‘The Road Less Traveled’ yet Dave? One of the best books I’ve read and full of insights on this topic.

Maia March 18, 2013 at 11:00 am

It’s true. Things of any value hardly come to use without struggle and what we find hard at first becomes easier with practice and the right attitude.

RJ Hill March 18, 2013 at 11:55 am

Most of the things I consider hard are those that I’m not naturally adept at doing the very first time: playing soccer, writing consistently, cooking, etc. But these are also some of my favorite things to do once I get over that initial hump of anxiety. Being uncomfortable has always made me anxious, but I’m learning to see that feeling as a signal to forge ahead rather than delay, and it’s made a huge difference. Thanks for another great piece!

phoenixfruitbat March 18, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Another wonderfully motivating feel good post! Hi 5!

steph in berkeley March 18, 2013 at 1:21 pm

fun read. inspiring even.

Anton March 18, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Nice post.
I have a question though. Why you didn’t create some holder for iron bar? For example, two metal cones of same diameter but different height with holes in the middle, welded together. And no possibility to break someone’s wrist. Is there any caveats?

David March 18, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Good question.

We have tried a few things. One problem is that we are on foot and carrying quite a bit of equipment already. There is already something occupying each available hand if there are only two people. The other problem is that the stake-holder’s primary job is to prevent the bar from bouncing straight up, and correcting it if it deflects sideways after a strike. You really need the dexterity and dependability of a human hand.

Anton March 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Oh, I see. Then maybe what you need is just a small metal disk with a cutout to cover hand of the holder. If sledgehammer will slip that disk will protect wrist.

Anyway, thanks again for a good post.

Tom K March 19, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Just had some roofing done and the crew used a small but powerful hotair blower/heater during the job. Might be an option for heating the frozen ground. Extra piece of equipment, ‘tho, as well as requiring electricity (a blowtorch-type wouldn’t however), so, your call.

Hamlet March 18, 2013 at 5:45 pm

I must thank you twice, David—once for this post, and a second time for your previous post in which you introduced me to Douglas Harding. I spent an hour on the Headless website this past weekend, following along some of the Experiments. The experiment on stress and pain came back to me while I was reading your essay today, and I could hear Harding’s voice saying something like “the hardness and difficulty of hammering an iron rod into brick is out There, not in the awake capacity of your center Here.” Perhaps “Harding” is the participial form of a new verb “Hard,” which could be defined as making hard things easy.

Ryan March 18, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Thanks David, this really resonates with my belief that expanding your comfort zone is a key ingredient to inner contentment.

As a teacher, my mom always pushed me to my academic limits, and I really did my best in school. Currently I am a freshman in college and there are times when I begin to fall behind on my homework because I get distracted. When it piles up and becomes a seemingly monumental task, it’s daunting and “hard”.
But I’ve learned that diving right into it and just taking steps to get started is the best way to proceed. Like Newton’s first law of motion, once I get into studying it gets easy enough to the point where it’s nearly effortless.

Jeff Thomson March 18, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Great Article David.

It makes total sense, this idea of the hard becoming easy when you pursue it. And I’m all for expanding your comfort zone, but I also think it is important to recognise that it is alright to avoid some things that you don’t enjoy. That is, as long as they don’t stop you achieving what you want from life. For example if you don’t like action movies, it’s alright to not watch them, rather than sitting through Die Hard marathons until they become tolerable (obviously this is a flippant example).

Tiva Joy March 18, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Reminds me of growing up, when my dad encouraged me to eat what I don’t like on the plate first, so you have what you do like at the end… Not really the same but I guess as a kid that was basically doing/eating the hard stuff first, then the rest becomes an easy treat.

Thanks David, you are absolutely right… Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today!

John March 19, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Thanks David. I think you’re exactly right. I spent most of my life taking the path of least resistance, not wanting any difficulty. In hindsight, those were the most difficult years of my life. I’ve since spent the last few years facing my fears, putting myself out of my comfort zone, and doing the difficult things. My life is so much easier now that I barely recognize my previous life.

Tom K March 19, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Turn HARD into EASY:

HARD
HARE
CARE
CASE
EASE
EASY

Ningus March 20, 2013 at 2:44 am

That’s why has occurred in my mind often, actually not about hard things but about how I avoid doing things with great details like sweeping deep corners on the floor, washing dishes which sometimes was enjoyable to me and sometimes got rejected by my laziness, and yeah! cleaning the bottom of a stove – which I felt was an important work. And the thing that needed my attempt the most is the hard and time-pressurized works at work – which when I gained more experiences – have made me feel at ease without stress – unlike when I first tried them.

Greg March 20, 2013 at 5:22 am

My example of hard becoming easy is long distance running. I am 57 and only started running a four years ago. I wish I had started earlier.

Once I ran with a pack of people and found that I could do 5km, I pushed it up to 10km, and now this is an “easy” distance. When I was younger, I never ran, and I see now I wasn’t in shape, I just used my youth and young body to get by, like people watching TV to entertain themselves. That was me.

Running is maybe an easy example of “hard becoming easier” because after a run, for me, there is a real palpable sense of well being and up-ness, the endorphins wash through my body all day.

Ammies March 20, 2013 at 10:49 am

Thanks, I really needed this post today. I recently started working a new job with a segment of the population I’ve never before worked with, and it’s proving to be very emotionally and physically demanding, much more than I thought. It’s a huge change in my life and I’m having a very rough time adjusting. Reading this helped a lot and as always your posts are much appreciated! :)

Silvanus Slaughter March 20, 2013 at 8:21 pm

I always enjoy your posts, sir. Thank you.

Nitya March 20, 2013 at 8:46 pm

I always enjoy the snippets you give, of life in Manitoba. It must be such a such a harsh environment , yet people go on, conducting a modern, western lifestyle despite the difficulties encountered.

Tackling a task that is difficult and not particularly enjoyable, on a regular basis, is an exercise in discipline, isn’t it? Bravo to you for doing this and for being able to pass it on to us. Thanks.

Jax March 21, 2013 at 7:25 pm

This was a really great post and definitely can relate to it a lot.
It makes me think about how really, and I believe you’ve written about it before, everything is neutral. We create the emotion for these situations so thats why we feel x or y for it.
Something I use to dread was the hour drive to work and anyone else in a 9-5 can relate that drive to work and home can be almost the most draining part of your day but once you just accept you’re going to be in the car for an hour, put on a good cd, you’ve got a cruisy drive with little to no resentment towards the activity and I believe it comes quite close to with what you’re saying here and is something everyone should be putting into practice.
Once you accept it, change your approach and perspective on a task and it will be come “the easy”.
Good post.

John Wilson March 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Great post David! Hammering in stakes in frozen ground is hard hard! Have you applied this to tedious hard at all, like committing to several hours a day to a work project that may not be all that exciting in the early stages when results are not immediately apparent?

It Calls Me Onanon March 24, 2013 at 2:29 pm

This is an agreeable observation. It seems that David is describing a method to overcome confrontations of oneself by use of a “mantra”, or, some commitment one makes to oneself to follow in whatever way makes that possible.

David and I have come to somewhat similar conclusions in the past up until recently when he detailed a method that missed a large chunk of details, one in which I saw as detrimental. Admittedly I was disappointed because I see him as someone who is admirable for the degree of seriousness in his displayed interest in growth, but after some thought and reading this post, I thought it would be necessary to clear up some of the arguments I’ve seen used by people on this blog to validate his observations and invalidate mine.

The simple truth is that we don’t “speak a different language”; we begin from different parts of the conversation.

David begins at a part of the conversation in which human sensibilities are established and inherent in their nature. He relies on facets that are true because, despite any argument, they cannot be disproven. This makes for agreeable conclusions generally.

However, these facets often include truths that can only be reconcilable within the context in which they occurred in and while they are truths that cannot be argued with, they are truths that dissolve with the introduction of a broader set of data.

I look at it from a perspective in which there is nothing but a blank slate, in which there are no established/observed realities and certainly no agreed-upon regularities that must be expected to occur. From that point I form a foundation composed of logic that has been deconstructed to the point of the most refined elements—elements that hold true to all different nations, sexes, religions, races, etc.

My starting place makes the process long and dependent on tons of data and information that fill out the rest of the conversation to provide context.

“Long” in human culture, as David expressed, is difficult and difficult procedures inherently do not have immediate results; they require intense, dedicated scrutiny. However, it is a process that, ironically, becomes effortless with practice. It’s the actual application of confronting “difficulty” and “mental discipline” that people avoid by forming overly-simplistic and (in comparison) lazy methods. These methods do not get around the work in some genius way; they miss a very fundamental part of the formula.

So, in the past when I have tried confronting David’s process, I have tried to example the elements that he missed or overlooked. It’s a very cold and bitter fact to dust away at though–that those who do things like use mantras to deconstruct a situation, even in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, have missed content and are thus using a wrong method. Even mentioning that it is a “wrong method” puts up a stop sign. It’s a cut-off point for people because it invalidates their efforts and leaves them at square one. Square one is scary but you don’t have to continue arguing with what threatens to take you there or try to validate why the things you did come to speak to some degree of truth—I know they do. You can realize your stop sign and consider what I’m trying to say and ask about the things you missed because those are things that aren’t necessarily irrelevant or inconsequential. No reasoning will make your conclusions any more valid—seniority or personal justification. You have the ability to think about it, even if it takes ten more years. This is how you grow– by listening to others who have come to perceive observations and details that you haven’t and therefore disagree with you.
It seems to me that as people cross into their older years they become impatient with not understanding how life works anymore and solidify their method of arriving at conclusions because then that means they are done with that effort. I’ve confronted it as David’s proclamation of “a street level look at the human experience.”

…and the people that come to this blog rely on David’s sense of direction and feel threatened when I disagree with him. I’m sorry that I make sorting through life harder for them, but I only want to guide a person as likeable as David in the right direction for people. I only duz it fo’ progress-na’ mean?

Nitya March 25, 2013 at 4:47 am

This was really interesting.
I should imagine comments will cease fairly soon, but I look forward to reading your contributions as well, from now on.

Nitya March 25, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Ummmmm. I think not.

Nitya April 9, 2013 at 1:46 am

Ummmmm. I don’t think, I only react.

Patrick April 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm

“The right direction for people” is a subjective value laden story that doesn’t really serve to empower anyone, except maybe the author.
Unless you drop the pedantic superior voice and actually engage people, your ‘broader set of data” won’t be of any value to them.
David does a great job of giving people distinctions that give them more power. Should you have some of that pixie dust, you will need to find a way to present yourself ‘more likeable’ and then you won’t find ‘argument’ but real connection.
Best of luck!

It Calls Me Onanon May 10, 2013 at 8:16 pm

“The right direction for people” is a subjective value laden story…”

The right direction for people does not have to be a subjective matter inherently. One can determine what is right by determining what is wrong in any given contextual matter not isolated in some subjective vacuum of reality. There is simply what one can do and what one shouldn’t do if they are intending on achieving some end– A “Right” and a “wrong”. In this circumstance the intended achievement is growth in any capacity.

It’s interesting to me that you chose to impose a pretense that asserts the correctness or righteousness of how right and wrong should be perceived. Also, you proceeded to conclude that it “doesn’t serve to empower anyone, except maybe the author.” You seem to be more preoccupied with vilifying the person on the other end of the argument to forward invalidating their disposition. You choose to see me as someone who gets “empowered” by my interests instead of considering the subtleties of other people—you see me as a one-dimensional character of little complexity.

“Should you have some of that pixie dust,” How presumptuous.

These behaviors.. they suggest that you maintain a belief that asserts that a person cannot be told what is right or wrong. This is the perfect example of subjectivity. You fail to use reason to guide through complexity, instead opting for oversimplified “digestible” rationalizations, boiling the world and its people down into your “one size fits all” narrow perspective on circumstances.

You are a subjectivity-based, ideologically driven person and historically behaviors like that suggest an underlying psychology that avoids confrontation. This all makes it very ironic that you attempt to invalidate my argument by citing “subjectivity.”

Underneath your P.R. speech it sounds like you’re a person that uses your disdain of other people’s perspectives, their “subjectivity”, to avoid having to change by any other terms than your own. You’re willing to see only what you wish to see as a “distinction that gives them more power” because in the end all that matters is how you view the world. You perceiving a “pedantic superior voice” is also ironical because from where everyone else is standing who doesn’t have their head up their asses, your words and your defamation suggest someone who is very power-driven and thinks that their own opinion is superior. Underneath your P.R. speech I imagine an ape that is feeling a limited range of emotion that it responds to – superiority and for certain, smugness.

David May 10, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Cut it out with the personal flaming.

It Calls Me Onanon May 11, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I think you mean “cut it out with the confronting people’s behaviors.”

If that’s what you desire I’ll stop from now on. I respect how you’d like to see this community.

I will not, however, agree that you are trying to stop personal flaming, or else you would have caught Patrick’s comment before I did and confronted how he was flaming on me personally instead of responding to anything I expressed. I expect this type of response to some of the other posts I’ve made on here but this one was intimately delicate and I expressed no superior disposition — in fact it was the opposite; a leveled point of view between our perspectives.

I suspect that realistically it was the direct nature of my comment that provoked your response and it was the manipulative dressing of Patrick’s comment as a “friendly recommendation” with passive undertones that let it go under the radar. With no bad intentions, I think it would be wise to investigate how you are displaying a structure that you respond to David. You jump at signs of aggression, seemingly ideologically, without a subtle examination of what is being said.

Sorry if I caused you any annoyance.

It Calls Me Onanon May 11, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Pardon my “trollish” additional comment but I also wanted to say that if Patrick had said something useful, constructive or even remotely true about my character I would have listened. I frequent places every day with people who are about confronting behaviors aimed at avoiding real conversation/argument and I listen intently to what they have to say. I promise I am not a lech who is looking for combat — I just don’t back down from offensiveness. Sorry, again.

Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce March 25, 2013 at 6:55 am

As a musician, I was trained to make hard things easy all the time. How? Break it up into the smallest chunk while playing it so slowly that it seems like the work is a 4th grade piece of music. Then slowly speed it up over time (anyone can do this…anyone). We should all strive to make hard easy in every aspect. Thanks for this…

Tara March 25, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Surfed on in to your blog from MMM… good reading! I recognized the description of the weather/terrain right away… sounds like my native northern Saskatchewan. :-) Hi neighbor!

David March 28, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Hey neighbor! With the prairie westerlies, we tend to get our weather second-hand from saskatchewan.

Mr. Money Mustache March 28, 2013 at 6:29 am

OK, I know the frozen stakes and the soil are just an example to launch us into the deeper philosophical education of the article, but I still need to make this suggestion: have you tried drilling your stake holes with a cordless hammer drill with a 1″ masonry bit? I find this makes easy work of frozen soil, dry soil, rocky soil, solid ice, etc.

Although I approve of the manly nature of all this sledge hammering, I feel the need to speak up to save the surveyors from undue injury :-)

David March 28, 2013 at 4:42 pm

There was a lot of talk this winter about our department buying a gas-powered drill made specifically for drilling holes in the ground (the ones the pavement crews use), but they were only willing to buy one of them, which means it can only be used for one site, and it wasn’t my site.

I was always skeptical about the effectiveness of a drill though, because a 1×2 wooden stake doesn’t fit into a 1″ hole if the material really is frozen. It bounces right back up. We always have to work the bar free by hitting it on its sides with the sledgehammer and then rocking it side to side, which makes a hole that a stake will stay in. We can’t really do that with a drill bit. And the manliness of sledgehammering something is also a bit of an upside.

Sephy March 29, 2013 at 11:45 am

I have know this for a long time, but its the first time I have thought about it.

SRH March 31, 2013 at 7:35 am

Just gimme a sec to pic up my frontal lobe off the floor because you just blew my mind.

Brilliant article. I’ve been caught in a vortex for some time now, where things that I know should be easy are not. It’s as if everything has become difficult and I’ve had difficulty in addressing that.

This article has taken me some way toward resolution.

I would like to add that for some people, there is a little voice that discourages ease. At some level if something os ‘too easy’ there must be a catch. In my case I’ve come to understand that this is a factor in my habits and I’m sure it’s the same for others.

Thanks for your Blog David and for your unique voice and approach to the life experience.

Tobi April 3, 2013 at 9:16 am

Reading this post this morning will help me on my first day of a job I’ve never done before. Thanks, David!

Joe April 4, 2013 at 9:17 am

it is not possible to stop by your site for aa moment. It is too interesting.
I am just about to go out for a run. Sometimes it is so hard to go into the cold but what a great feeling once the first steps are taken.

Shawn Ryan April 7, 2013 at 4:27 pm

This is a great post. I am a musician, actually a music teacher, and I like how Tony put it earlier, breaking things down like we do when we are learning a piece of music is the best way to do anything. It makes it all seem easier.

Brianna April 13, 2013 at 11:41 pm

great article! You are very good writer. I agree and have observed this emotional dynamic myself and it’s empowering to engage a new relationship to something that’s hard and just do it because really it isn’t that hard if you get over it mentally….but sometimes things don’t get easier and they’re not supposed to because it’s kicking you in the ass to make some kind of change you may be resisting (ie: relationship, work, residency, etc)…however it’s good to pass anything and everything through that filter and see how it might enrich you and inform your personal growth in some way…………having said that….I don’t think I’ll ever go where it’s minus 30! yipes…i’m too adapted to blissful california weather:p we had temperatures in the low 30’s in the mornings for a couple weeks this past winter and it was so unusual…almost everyone was getting sick and almost nobody liked it! I actually didn’t mind it though because it’s so rare…..

Dan May 17, 2013 at 9:50 am

Hi David,

I am new to your blog and I have really enjoyed reading it so far. I think your insight into making hard things easy is ‘spot on’. I am currently writing a dissertation and have been making a hard process even harder by avoiding writing at every opportunity…I think I will adopt your mindset and try to make this process a bit easier on myself. Thanks for all the great posts!

pratyusha mishra August 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm

A very gud post indeed… Lukin forward to create my own blog… Yu r my inspiratn… Thanx a lot…. Will certainly follow yur ideas… Dey r thought provoking…

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Vexcel March 14, 2014 at 4:57 am

Oh wow. I needed this in my life. Thank goodness for this post.

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