Everything we do at Men & Women Of Discomfort is in response to a singular, universal problem we face as humans in this cultural moment. This post is dedicated to bringing clarity to what the problem is, while inviting you to consider your response to it.
First, a warning: If you don’t see a problem with what I’m about to point out, you’re off the hook. If there is resonance, though, it’s going to be irritating not to want to do something about it. The good news is the community at MWOD is committed to offering tangible help, if you want it, in your pursuit to overcome this problem on your road to flourishing as the person you were made to become.
So, here it is… the problem I am obsessed with is our default desire to avoid doing hard things. The reason we are convinced of it is because of its implications, and I can think of no more elegant way to express those implications than the mantra that my friend Jerzy Gregory made famous…
”Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.”
To understand why our default desire to avoid doing hard things is a problem, let’s back up a bit and talk about another phenomenon that we at MWOD call the drift.
Depending on your context, the drift goes by a lot of different names. Scientifically, we call it entropy or the second law of thermodynamics. It’s the idea that if I have a cup of coffee and that coffee gets set aside for a moment, it will get cold (and not hotter). It cannot get warmer on its own.
Think of it this way: The energy that is in anything or anyone seeps out when left alone. Like the air in a balloon, it goes flat over time. It can’t not, actually. That’s why it’s called a law. The drift is normal. It’s part of the nature of our universe. It’s as dependable and as real as gravity. On its own, the drift isn’t bad or good. It’s simply a constraint we live under as humans.
What’s challenging is when you combine the drift with our default bias to avoid hard things. Making matters worse, almost everything we’re sold encourages us to go with the drift’s flow precisely when we need to be going in the opposite direction.
As Jerzy says so clearly, if we’re interested in thriving as humans, the drift isn’t meant to be passively ignored. It’s meant to signal what we ought to push against in order to grow. If we want to become the kinds of people who can do hard things, we learn how to do that by swimming against the drift.
The villain in this story is our culture. We live in the golden era of comfort.
Everywhere you look, you’re being sold on the promise of ease, convenience, automation, and relief. From processed foods to the cars we drive to the drugs we take, the most popular choices are the ones that promote comfort.
On its own, comfort isn’t inherently bad. But when it becomes the chief aim of humanity, it becomes our death knell. Each time we make the easy choice of comfort, our capacity to live life when things are difficult gets worse. And, if you haven’t noticed, a lot of life is difficult.
Consider the food we put into our bodies. Everyone knows that processed food isn’t good for us. Yet, processed food is engineered in such a way that it seems to 3 taste better than non-processed food. And by “taste better,” I simply mean it’s more comfortable to eat.
To choose the discomfort of eating clean may be viewed as noble, but it’s rarely a default choice. It’s not a leap to conclude, given the growing obesity statistics of those who choose the Standard American Diet (SAD), that the comfortable choice is also killing people.
So, how precisely does one develop in their willingness and ability to choose hard things, especially when we don’t feel like it?
“There is no bad weather. There are only bad clothes.”
MWOD is about finding the right clothes for the weather you navigate. It’s about putting them on every single day and discovering the agency that comes from being willing and able to do hard things. We are a community where hundreds of people, just like you, have found their way forward.