My Urge To Make Things Harder Than They Are

You usually can turn everything into an unpleasant and painful experience. And I tend to do that a lot. Technically, you could also go the other way around but people seem not to love this as much. Sometimes I make things harder for myself than they really are. But, what might seem hard or impossible to me might be easily manageable for others. “Difficult” is a very vague and stretchable term. What might be difficult for you, might be a no-brainer for the person right next to you. Whenever you perceive something as difficult (“This is so difficult”), you always have to add “for me” in parenthesis. So “difficult” is very a subjective term, and that being the case, it also means it is adaptable and even changeable, which is the good news.

Just take your own experience as an example: everybody has at least some periods in his life where he felt overwhelmed and incapable of doing the stuff he was meant to be doing. You might have felt this way in a new job scenario where you quickly had to adapt to the new workload and challenges given to you. But also, nearly everybody has an experience where he just kept going and somehow ended up at a spot where the challenges are no longer “challenging”. You became better at what you are doing and stuff which might have caused you to feel terrified and overwhelmed now seem to be pretty damn easy. You grew stronger, and “difficult tasks” are now pushed to a whole new level. Is it because the assigned tasks got easier? Or is it because you somehow became more skilled in fulfilling your assignments? Most of the times it is the latter. You literally changed the way you perceive “difficulty”.You pushed the boundaries and improved your skills.

I wonder now if you could have tricked your mind into believing your tasks were easy in the first place? Could you somehow twist your thoughts, get – for example – a new job, see the challenges and don’t even start to feel frightened by them at all? What if you just start at the end and you go in strong right from the beginning? It might not be easy and you might also have to delude yourself a little bit, but it can be done.

The trick is to put everything into perspective. Whenever you face something rather difficult and challenging and you are about to give in to the overwhelming tasks, think about the man-on-the-moon contrast. Compared to “putting a man on the moon”, is your task still difficult? Do you believe that solving your given task is more difficult than building a rocket, shooting a man to the moon and getting him back safe again too? Millions of people accumulated their knowledge and time to make this project happen. Great people were born (Einstein, Newton, Hawking just to name a few) and they dedicated their lifetime to learn more about the world and finally get mankind one step closer to shooting a man on the moon. Millions of people dedicated years of study and oftentimes lifetime passion into science. It’s the sum of all this wisdom and time investment which made it happen in the first place.

You now could say this comparison sucks and it is not relevant. “Of course putting a man on the moon is easier than my task! This is irrelevant!”. But still it puts things into perspective. Although you might never build something awesome like a rocket, which is able to fly to the moon (although maybe you do, I don’t know), every task you are about to do is usually fairly easy in comparison. It is the mental gap you create which enables you to perform better. By putting things into perspective you are creating space, space for solutions to enter. And this makes things appear easier than they are.

Human beings are social creatures and we like to compare ourselves to others. How am I doing compared to others? If everybody struggles with the same issues these tasks might be perceived to be hard or “impossible”. But what if one of them now finally gets it? What if one of them finishes this “impossible” task and gets it done? The other people witnessing it now don’t have any more excuses that this might be an impossible task at all. Somebody already did it so they KNOW they are capable of doing so too (because nobody is cut from a different cloth). It’s just like this athlete who – for the first time – has beaten the 4 minute mark for running a mile. In the same month he broke the record, which was perceived to be “humanly impossible to beat”, 4 other runners did the same. They saw what is possible and got assured that this is something which can be done. So they did it as well. It’s all in our head.

Just like with your overwhelming tasks at your new job, you have to put things into perspective. You got tasks assigned, which might cause you some pain and headaches. But do they cause the same emotions for everybody else at your company? Are there some people who might find it rather easy to do? Investigate and see what they do differently? Is it some knowledge they gained for themselves or is it just plain practice? Are they more skilled? Can they teach you their tricks and methods? As soon as you find somebody who can do it without any efforts and you turn to them for help, things actually get easier for you as well. There is no chance in the world you are not getting the same results if you are following somebody’s footsteps and guidance.

Now think about what you might be able of achieving when you go to smarter people in ANY area of your life you would like to improve? What if you get a “mentor” in any area you seek improvement? Do you believe your life might become more fulfilling and less challenging? I can assure you it will. And I can also assure you that there are ENDLESS amounts of people out there who are struggling with the same problem as you are at this very moment. There is an old saying: “The more special you think your problem is, the more universal it actually is.” There are 7 billion people in this world and even more have lived before us. The odds are pretty high that some of them are going or have been going through similar phases in their lives. Most of them wrote books about their most important findings in their lifetime. They are available to your for 10$ or even less. You can soak up ALL the knowledge they have accumulated in up to 80 years of their lives or even more. Don’t you think there might be at least SOMETHING valuable inside these covers which might help you to get ahead in your life as well?

I truly believe books are the most underrated things in the world. And they are so because they are cheap. It’s actually funny, but people don’t value stuff which comes to them for free. They still don’t get the difference between a “price” and a “value”. Although the price of books might be low, their value is oftentimes endless. You could invest 50$ per months into 4 books, read them and therefore absorb more than 100 years of human knowledge (that’s one book per week, so fairly easy to do). Even if you only could use one tiny bit of information out of this book, isn’t it still worth it? You might have just saved yourself one year of banging your head against a wall. Well, it is worth it for me, because my time is limited and my most precious resource. I spend up to 800$ per year on Amazon buying books. It might seem “a lot” but there many people out there who spend WAY more on their “brain budget”.

The most important thing is to keep your eyes open for solutions. Think about the contrast bias. Am I deluding myself? Is this something more difficult than putting a man on the moon or is it rather easy in comparison? If it is hard for me, are there other people out there who might not be struggling with this problem at all? Can I reach out to them? Can I read their books? Can I get close to them so at least some of their knowledge rubs off to me? How much money am I willing to spend on my brain power? What is my brain budget? If you are willing to find a solution you certainly will. Don’t just make the same mistake as I did and try to find out all the answers by yourself. Don’t reinvent the wheel. It might take you longer than you want it to. Be humble and appreciate the help of others. As long as you are willing to learn, others will help you. Humility is key. People appreciate this kind of attitude in other people.

You just have to keep your eyes open and ask them to help you.

Oftentimes they are closer than you might expect them to be.

(Photo: Flickr)

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  • Glenn

    It is tough, it is hard, it is a struggle and yes, it is so challenging to live a day. There’s a lot of circumstances that I have to face. There’s a lot of problems I have to solve. And I am aiming to win each battle everyday. There’s always a solution, there’s always a way, and there’s always a reason for everything. We just need to prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally. I agree with you, reading books can prevent you from a failure by learning from the experiences of others. Reading book will inspire you more for a better and stronger you!

  • Thomas Mondel

    And it will also save you a lot of time.