It's funny, this natural inclination we have for things to be easy. Everyone wants to work really hard, not for its own sake, but only so that they can stop working hard and go live on a beach. They're willing to suffer through the ordeal of dating to find that perfect soulmate so that they can coast for the rest of their lives. I used to think like this, too, but over time have developed a new way of looking at things. Now I want to do hard things only so that I can do even harder things later. I don't want it easy.
At least once a day I marvel at how I got to be alive. I look at the dashboard of my motorcycle and the stripes lining the road, and I think, "how totally insane is it that I get to see these things right now, that I get to be on a motorcycle and operate it and live in a place where someone has striped the road for my safety?" Seriously, tiny little things like that are huge. It is ridiculous that I'm alive and that life is as incredible as it is. I mean, we could all be amoebas. There's more of them than there are of us.
So I think about how amazing it is to be alive, and I think, why does everyone want to skim that experience? We're all so capable, born with the ability to dig deep within ourselves and use everything we've been given. We can understand things no other creatures can understand. We can build things no other creatures can build, and can positively change the course of our entire race. That's an awesome amount of responsibility and potential. How can I choose to leave that on the table?
Would I have more seratonin in my brain if I made things easy on myself? Probably. I have a lot up there now, but if I kicked back and lived off my book sales forever on a beach in Thailand, I bet my brain would be loaded with those happiness chemicals, even more than it is now. Does that matter, though? Is more happy brain chemicals really the best that society can get from me? Man, I hope not.
I'm always trying to do hard things. I literally think to myself, "is my life too easy right now? How can I make it harder?" I don't mean that I'm going to go out and carry bricks around just to make things difficult. I mean that I'm always going to think, okay, I've made it to this level of productivity/discipline/understanding/ability-- what's the next level and what work do I have to put in to get there.
I talk a lot about cues that I have in my brain. One cue I have is whenever I think, "Eh, that would be a good idea, but I don't really know how to do it,", I prioritize learning how to do that thing. The most recent example was when I was trying to speed up SETT. I was reading some stuff about optimization and realized that the best thing I could do would be to implement a front end cache, an in-memory cache, and switch to a new webserver. I had no idea how to do either of the caches, so I spent a bunch of time researching and reading, and made it happen. It was hard, but I rose to the challenge.
Even with things as basic as productivity, I think the same way. The other day I thought, "You know, I'm really doing a great job with my new productivity system. I write a blog post every day, do a Chinese lesson every day, and program every day. Good job, Tynan." My immediate next thought was, "Okay, so you've reached this level. What's next and how do you get there?" I decided that it would be to focus more on overall strategy and keep a daily journal/log so that I could look back at my thoughts, so I immediately implemented both. Once those become easy, I'll move to something next.
I'll be dead some day. So will you. When that happens, the seratonin in our brains will dissapear and be irrelevant, but our achievements and impact on the world will last, at least in a small way. The people who have the habit of stepping up and doing the hard things available to them will be the ones who have tho honor of leaving the world a better place than when they got there. I'm hoping to be one of those people, and hoping you will be, too.
Vegas next week!
Thanks again to everyone who took the SETT survey. I'll be posting insights from it soon.