Why Can’t It Be Easy?
customer drove across town with her print job. She needed business
cards the next day. At the print shop, she was told that it would be
better if the original was in the form of a computer file. She could go
home and email it to the print shop and come back the next day to pick
up the cards. Frustrated, she exclaimed, “Why can’t it be
easy? Why does everything have to be hard?”
The answer that came to her was, “Because you didn’t know. When you know, it becomes easy.”
for a lot of people seems very hard. Unexpected things happen. They
have too much stress. Problems seem insurmountable. The problem
isn’t in the event though. It is in the not knowing how to handle
it. Recently, a science television show demonstrated this in an
experiment investigating the limits of human performance. A US Navy
Seal’s performance was tested before and after being immersed in
ice water. The scientists wanted to induce hypothermia and see how
badly it would degrade task performance. The Navy Seal was in the tank
with ice water for an hour and he so managed his blood flow that his
core body temperature remained well above where one would expect it to
be. He then got out of the freezing water and performed a designated
task with remarkable skill. This man was able to endure conditions that
would probably kill most people because he knew how to do it. He had a
good physical constitution and a strong mental attitude, but it was
experience and training that gave him the knowledge to endure freezing
cold without apparent harm.
the seal explained afterwards that he was protecting his core body
temperature by resisting the tendency to shiver, which sends blood flow
away from the vital organs to the extremities. He did that by relaxing.
Most of the
time, our external conditions are not our real problem. The problem is
that we don’t know how to handle them. For those of us not
trained in the martial arts, being attacked by 5 men is a big problem.
At an Aikido black belt test, the attack is a solvable problem. To the
untrained eye watching the black belt candidate, it appears that the
solution to the problem is to move in response to the attackers so that
they can be dealt with one by one. If you are untrained, you
don’t know that and you don’t know how to do it. When you
know, the problem is solvable.
trouble is that we become frustrated and anxious when we encounter
challenges that are outside our area of expertise. Sometimes we
haven’t got a clue what to do and sometimes we apply the wrong
solution to the problem. For instance, if in our daily life we use
relationship skills we developed in a dysfunctional family, our
relationships will probably feel hurtful. If, on the other hand, we get
some help seeing that there are other, healthier ways to have
relationships, and if we are open to change, we can enjoy more pleasant
interactions and feel better about people.
challenge then is to recognize that we need not be the victims of
circumstances. It is not what is going on outside of us that makes us
miserable. It is our response to it. If we can choose a more adaptive
response to our stressors, we feel less stress, less unhappiness. Then
we can recognize that our problems are not because life is bad or the
world is unfriendly and harsh, the problem may be that we just
haven’t found the necessary skill to deal with the challenge.
improve our skill, we may need to train. We may need to study. We may
need a teacher. We may need to practice and fail and try again.
we most certainly need to do is to calm ourselves, manage our anxiety,
clarify our intention and be open to there being a solution to our
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