The Truth About Ease

I’ve been both attracted and repelled by an idea that’s gained traction in our culture: that whatever we are supposed to do should feel easy, as in ease-filled. There should be an ease about our choices, and if something is hard, it might not be the right thing for us.

I’ve always thought: What about the Civil Rights movement, and all the hard stuff people did to gain voting rights, to take their rightful place as full citizens? What about every social movement involving people making choices that revealed the truth and pressed for change? What if they’d espoused this philosophy of “ease”—where would our planet be now?

On the other hand, I love the idea of ease! I love the idea that our choices can fit us so thoroughly that our actions and expressions just flow.

Maybe that’s because it’s taken me so long to get over the notion that whatever’s easy for me must not be worth doing. Must not be a gift at all.

Earlier this year a much-admired community organizer stunned me by cluing me in to my impact. Apparently all the stuff I do that comes naturally—reading, thinking deeply, caring, listening, offering insight and concern, connecting people—has helped his organization in ways I couldn’t even imagine.

Here I thought I was just sitting there being thinky/feely, not really “doing” anything.

It’s so easy to discount our native gifts and think we should do more or be different. As Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz counseled a young writer asking how to find her audience: Do You.

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Photo by Walt Stoneburner, via Flickr Creative Commons

So I am learning to follow ease in that regard, and not think that I must work against the grain to offer something of value. After all, the very things that come easy for me might be the hardest things for someone else. Why not play to our strengths?

However, I don’t believe that nothing we attempt should ever be difficult, or that we’re “doing it wrong” if we run into difficulties. I know that writing a book is hard. I know that showing up and being vulnerable is hard. I know that holding people accountable is really damn hard.

Some of these things, at various times and for various people, might be the exact next right thing, no matter how hard. We can tell if they are by keying into a sense of rightness deep in the marrow of our bones.

My new barometer is less about ease and more about alignment. So if something seems hard but still feels right? That’s the direction I need to go.

2 thoughts on “The Truth About Ease

  1. I’ve been thing a lot about the benefits of working hard and what makes us hesitate to do so. Yes ease is beneficial yet making something easy can take practice and hard work or fewer habits. They are not opposites at all. Working hard can have many benefits like bringing focus to your life, making you feel better about yourself, practicing skills, taking better care of yourself, people, or your environment, being better prepared for even things like recreation. Work is beneficial both before and after resting and recreation. What has made me hesitate to work hard in the past is simply not feeling that my work makes a difference. To work hard it is helpful to believe that everything you do makes a difference. That you are not wasting your time and effort. To use your time effectively it to me means diligent work or recreation habits or perhaps I shouldn’t forget social and caring. Also don’t mistake recreation for leisure.
    I hope this is helpful and not something imposing on you or pressuring you.

    • I love your perspective! So true that we must know that what we do makes some kind of difference, otherwise what is the everloving point? Thanks for your thoughtful and thought-provoking comment.

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