Easy Come, Easy Go

I’ll be honest, I was born of Dutch descent and working hard is in my genes. I am pre-programmed to ‘push hard’ and ‘get things done’. I don’t recall ‘going easy’ being part of my inner monologue growing up. Life was always about competition, exceeding expectations and breaking down barriers to reach new feats of personal performance (in all areas of my life). I worked hard, I played hard and became very skillfull at being hard on myself if the results I was seeking did not come to fruition.

I created this ‘go hard’ mantra for myself. I felt like it was what was expected of me. And I write this blog wondering how many of us have a similar story? It seems the world demands us to be ‘successful’ and that requires us to push harder, be harder and (goodness help us) even have a body that appears harder. Our success in life has become all about how hard and how strong we can be. And hey, it’s not all bad. We need to have a balance of strength and toughness to survive and thrive in a world driven by how much money and time we can squeeze out of any given day. But, with so much hard we need something soft, to re-balance the ‘more is better’ attitude that is infiltrating our lives everywhere we look. I too grew up to the mantra ‘if it’s easy, it’s probably not worth doing’ and so I spent my life naturally looking for the hardest possible way to achieve what I wanted to achieve, as though someone was going to give me a badge at the end and say “well done you, you took the hardest road.” Who am I kidding, despite all the effort and exertion no-one noticed, I certainly didn’t get a badge, and I was left exhausted wondering what was it all for?

So as I approach the end of another year and the beginning of a new one, I thought to myself- what do I need less of in my life and what can I look to add? As with everything we can’t keep adding new things, something has to be shed if we want to create sustainable change. I started to think about what I needed to bring balance back to my life and it was indeed the presence of more ease. My natural aptitude is to ‘go hard’ therefore to return to that undisturbed state of equilibrium I need a lighter touch, I need to approach certain aspects of life without force and demand. And that can be from the way I train my body, the connections in my relationships (both professional and personal), my expectations of myself and of others, and lastly the mental narrative that I cultivate. By that I mean finding a space, where despite the demands of life, despite my desire to do well, despite my ethic to work hard, I can find a footing where I am treading lightly- finding an easeful touch with myself and others. Just to be clear, I feel there is a distinction to be made between laziness and easefulness. Laziness implies lack of willingness to participate in life or complete lack of desire. While easefulness invites us to navigate through desires and even encounter difficulty, with an attitude of tranquillity. By that I mean we aren’t rushing about without time to think, we aren’t stuck in a haze of unconscious operation, we certainly aren’t short or impatient in our dealings with others, and we most certainly aren’t pushing ourselves to the very edge of our energetic capacity day in and day out. Instead we are able to pursue (what would life be without aspirations) the life we desire without a heavy hand but rather a peacefulness that reminds us that even during times of pursuit we can still be relaxed and present to enjoy daily living.

There are physiological implications to this shift in attitude. When we take ourselves away from a ‘push harder’ mentality and into a ‘go easy’ mentality we give our body and our brain permission to shift out of danger, stress and strain, and into safety, calm and sustainability. What changes is not just our thought patterns and how we process information but the chemical messengers actually present in the body. The parasympathetic nervous response (rest and digest phase) becomes favoured over the sympathetic nervous response (fight and flight phase) and the body can shift into a sustainable and optimal daily function. Our happy hormones (dopamine) increase, our immune system is fully functional; our endocrine and sexual hormones are in balance. So how did we create a mass physiological response just by changing our outlook on life? Our mind is the single most powerful organ in the body and it’s influence over our well being is insurmountable. We often look at parts of ourselves in isolation, our body, our thinking mind, our emotions, but we forget that all these aspects of ourselves are inextricably linked together and when we ‘push’ any given facet of ourselves too hard it will affect every other process happening within us. By going ‘easy’ or even just a little ‘easier’ we can create a full body response to reduce stress and it’s implications on our health.

As always, going easy is easier said than done. But even just a few moments to reflect on your life at the moment will render an understanding of your tendencies. In what aspects of life do you push hard? Where are you heavy handed or controlling? Who are you hard on, or expect a great deal from? Is it yourself? And next time you approach a situation that demands this of you, maybe just maybe, you conserve something for yourself and go easier, tread lighter, speak kinder, expect lesser. What you might find is more space and time to observe your habits and provide yourself with an opportunity to choose easefulness over hardness.

With easefulness comes sustainability. With sustainability comes repeatability. And with repeatability comes a lifestyle.

Happy holidays everyone!

Leave a Reply