Jan. 30, 2019

Make Life Harder

One thing I find interesting is the recurring sentiment, that each successive generation ought to have a better life with more success, money and happiness than the last. Having kids of my own now that are young, I can see where they are coming from. I want them to have a happy life, but I don’t want it to be easy.

It’s my opinion that it has gone too far for most people. I grew up in a home without chores, and had every toy and video game I could ever want. My life was quite easy – too easy, and even back then, as a spoiled 16 year old, I knew it. Being subject to the impulsiveness of that age, I took advantage of all of my luxury as a middle class American and coasted through life, work, and school. Deep down I knew that I wanted to go the other way.

The Inflection Point

Life has become easy to the point that it’s actually becoming more difficult, due to it’s own easiness! For example, food is now so abundant and readily available, and our minds so easily distracted, that we each far more than the necessary calories, and expand to the point where many Americans can no longer run a single mile, do a single pull up or push up, and so on. Simple tasks, like climbing a flight of stairs when the elevator is broken, expose how weak most people are, by their sheer annoyance at this simple problem.

I personally try to impose difficulty on myself by doing simple things, like never taking elevators, taking cold showers, waking up early, exercising, working a little extra to build up my employable skills instead of wasting inordinate amounts of time on Netflix, and the like. Mr. Money Mustache often echoes these same ideals in many respects. The most obvious way I displayed this publicly is with this here fancy mower (which I could buy 5 of before buying one nice Honda or Toro; and yes, it did the job just fine on a 1/8th acre lot).

Make Life Harder
Fancy mowing machine and very low maintenance

Easy Isn’t Happy

I do want my kids to be happy and successful, but there are so many ways to measure that. What I don’t want, is for their lives to be easy. I don’t want it to be terribly hard, but just enough to challenge them and build strength of character, mind and body.

I think this middle of the road mindset is beneficial to the kids. Since my firstborn began talking, and in addition, climbing, running and exploring parks and the outside world. I have never been afraid to let her push herself, sometimes past her limits. I try to never say “Be careful,” though there is a place for it. Instead I will tell her to “Focus” or “Pay attention,” with the implication that if she does so, she will likely succeed, despite the risk she may not realize she is taking.

On the flip side, she will sometimes faceplant, and learn her lesson the hard way. The next time she climbs up the object hopefully she will remember the misstep that caused the pain. Many other parents, young and old, would often comment that they have never seen such “chill” first time parents. Most everyone else is still helicoptering, to some degree.


In the end, think about the ways to add challenge to your life and push yourself. Focus and pay attention, and you will likely succeed. Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.

Inspiration for this post comes partly from the poem “I Wish You Enough.”

Also - I no longer use this type of lawnmower. Out west with a flat yard, no problem. Now I live in the south on a much bigger lot.