This blog post was brought to you by the generosity of AJATT's patrons!

If you would like to support the continuing production of AJATT content, please consider making a monthly donation through Patreon.

Right there ↑ . Go on. Click on it. Patrons get goodies like early access to content (days, weeks, months and even YEARS before everyone else), mutlimedia stuff and other goodies!

Do Something Easy, Or Nothing At All. There Is No Hard.

This entry is part 4 of 3 in the series Hard and Easy

There are only two choices in life.

  1. Do nothing.
    • “I’m tired”
    • “I’m burned out”
    • “I can’t”
  2. Do something hard.
    • “It’s good for me!”
    • “Suffering builds character!”
    • “I need discipline!”
    • “I have to”
    • “I should”
  3. Do something easy.
    • “No way!”
    • “This counts?”
    • “But it’s so much fun!”
    • “This is so easy!”

You’re like, “but wait, that’s three things!”


Because 1 = 2. Telling yourself to do something hard is the same thing as telling yourself to do nothing at all. Why? Because either:

  • You never do hard stuff, or
  • You do do hard stuff (like, once), but you don’t keep doing it

So again: telling yourself to do something hard is the same thing as telling yourself to do nothing at all.

Stop kidding yourself. You’re not gonna do that hard thing. You’re just not. It’s not going to happen, and even it does happen, it won’t keep happening. It’ll happen once, and it’ll hurt so much that it’ll never happen again.

So do something easy instead. Do something small. The smaller the better. The easier the better. The choice is not all or nothing: it’s easy or nothing.


Series Navigation<< Stop Trying Hard. Try Easy.

  29 comments for “Do Something Easy, Or Nothing At All. There Is No Hard.

  1. June 15, 2011 at 20:28

    I find when I am tried I will do one srs card or watch something in Japanese.
    I 100% agree with this.

  2. Chagami
    June 15, 2011 at 23:44

    I don’t think this is what you’re getting at, but I had an experience today that relates.

    I’m closing in on 1000 kanji and all this time, I’ve stuck with Heisig sounding phrases to associate the kanji with. I had just been copying and pasting the phrases from that RTK text file because I thought creating my own would be “hard”.

    Now, I just learned 人 and Heisig actually recommends associating this kanji with an actual person, instead of simply the word, “person”.

    This meant that I needed to break away from the provided phrases in the RTK text file and do my own.

    The thing is, once I started using my friend in my phrases, I started to feel that it was too fun *not* to change them! 😀

    Hard / Fun = Easy.

  3. JohnK
    June 16, 2011 at 00:39

    Khatz様, for such a young guy, you have a way of making things remarkably clear.

  4. Eri
    June 16, 2011 at 07:25

    I totally agree with this. And it’s so much easier to do something when it’s fun. Before recently I’d been trying so hard to keep up my immersion environment, but I just wasn’t able to do it. Then I decided I needed to start doing things that were more fun for me. I’m a detective geek, so I started reading Detective Conan raws. And then, even more recently, I heard of a show called BOSS. For the last couple days I’ve been spending half my time watching it because it’s one of the best cop shows I’ve seen. Easiest way I’ve found to keep up my immersion environment 😀
    So! Just remember: if it’s fun it will never seem hard. 🙂

  5. June 17, 2011 at 04:02

    But what if we are dedicated(non-3-day) monks? We are the kind of people who will sit under a strong waterfall for 8 hours a day, we are the kind of people who will eat the rice only if we’ve drank the wash-water for 3 days. We are the kind of people who will sit down and write a kanji a thousand times before pushing it back into our permanent memory(i.e. rare or long SRS)

    If you are this kind of person, then easy is still the best, because something easy will mean you are doing it for pure enjoyment.

    But we still do our intense monk exercises…

    If you put in a lot of intense work at the beginning(for long enough for it to remain in long-term memory, not 3-day monks) then you can eventually do less work in the long run.

    Also, the more you do something, the easier it becomes. So if you do “hard” tasks long enough, they become “easy” tasks, and you will have new “hard” tasks to conquer.

    What is “hard” for me right now? Writing a journal in Japanese.

    What is “easy” for me right now? Listening to keyholeTV radio stations and tv stations, reading Naruto manga and watching its anime as a review tool, watching videos in Japanese on youtube, and looking up new kanji I can’t figure out through context and radicals in my dictionaries.

    As long as you keep doing something, it doesn’t matter whether it is “easy” or “hard.”

  6. June 17, 2011 at 04:09

    For some reasons I am still having trouble with finding the right vocabulary to use when writing my journals. I practiced with a video camera on my youtube channel, but I still feel as if my vocabulary is very limited. I have made a point of making sure that I make note of similar/synonymous kanji vocabulary used in manga and make a point of trying to picture a kanji when I hear it spoken.

    One thing I would like to do is start from the basic vocabulary building exercises again. I would like to make a conscious effort to learn the vocabulary for a specific topic or activity.

    For example, the other day I was making a list of vocabulary that related to newspaper printing.

    I believe more will become clear as I become more acquainted with the Japanese way of doing things, and am sure a lot will become blatantly clear once I start living and studying in Japan. Some things just don’t make sense if you live in America…

    • June 18, 2011 at 20:16

      Maybe you’re just making the false mistake of assuming that you’re an adult and that your performance should be flawless. In Japanese, we’re still babies, and it’s okay if babies can’t write perfect journals. =P

      • June 19, 2011 at 09:11

        Yes, I have a long road ahead of me. I won’t feel satisfied until I have written a complete novel in the Japanese language while living, studying, and working in Japan.

        • July 5, 2011 at 07:40

          That’s excellent. Nothing can stand in the way of undying conviction. Congrats on having a clear mind and I hope you inspire those who know you as well! がんばれ!

  7. Russ
    June 18, 2011 at 04:03

    Areckx: I am using “Common Japanese Collocations” to mine common vocabulary and phrases. I’m working on clothing right now so I can tell my kids to get dressed in japanese, and there are all kinds of everyday environments and situations in this book. There are also example sentences.

    • June 19, 2011 at 09:12

      Oh, I think I know what you are referring to~! I read about that somewhere. I put a bunch of post-it notes all over my room in the locations of where I put certain things, I learned “mado” <> really effectively that way!

  8. June 21, 2011 at 16:16

    Not necessarily easy, but fun. Fun can be very difficult, some of the most rewarding things in life are very, very, very difficult, but people still do them because they’re worth it.


  9. Pingback: Eighth Linkfest
  10. June 26, 2011 at 10:06

    “Telling yourself to do something hard is the same thing as telling yourself to do nothing at all. ” OR, telling yourself to be righteous and do it no matter how much you suffer doing it…

    I agree with what you say Khatz: As long as you have in your mind “this is HARD” it will either not get done, or get done in a mediocre way, or get done after too much suffering and perspiration… it’s always better to start as small as one can handle, and from then take on bigger challenges. Thanks again for a short yet insightful post man. Muchas gracias! 😀

  11. Lon Cherryholmes
    July 17, 2011 at 18:46

    Great advice! But it reminded me a lot of of the joke:

    There are three types of people in the world: those who can count, and those who can’t.

  12. Flemmard
    August 31, 2011 at 02:44

    Boredom is sometimes – sometimes! – simply a question of mindset: how you consciously approach or value a particular activity. One mistake I made initially was to focus exclusively on the number of cards in my SRS deck. Adding cards was fun, because it was quick, quantifiable progress. Reviewing cards was a monotonous chore to simply keep from losing what I had already learned. In reality, of course, reviewing the cards is what really makes them penetrate into your long-term memory. So each SRS rep is objective progress. So the value of your SRS deck doesn’t equal the number of cards, but roughly:

    SRS deck value = number of cards x average number of reps per card

    So you can keep track of your total number of accumulated reps as a measure of progress. Or rather, since reviewing the same card 20 times in a single hour won’t help a jot, there’s also the time factor. What counts is reviewing a card many times over a period of time, so :

    SRS deck value = number of cards x average number of reps per card x average maturity of cards measured in months

    …Or something like that. So, time doesn’t take things from you, by making you forget, but objectively helps you by letting things sink in – all the way down to the dank, deep-sea bottom
    of your long-term memory. So it’s better to start today, and do a little, than in two months from now and do a lot. A well-aged SRS deck is like a fine wine (or a fine smelly cheese). 🙂

    So perhaps an ideal would be: 10000 sentences x 10 reps each card x an average of 3-4 months’ maturity per card (or whatever make sense mathematically).

    • August 31, 2011 at 07:23

      Reviewing cards is not so much a chore, as long as you make sure they’re not too hard (ideally, I find they individually should include one or two recently learned new concepts at most), not too easy (stuff that you can already read without a problem), and not too long.
      Having silly ones helps too. One of my favorites, which I got from Uncyclopedia ( , and which kind of breaks the too long rule, but it’s fine because it’s awesome) is: 従って、名古屋共和国内の日本国民は、一般的には名古屋人同士の会話を理解できない。 (Therefore, Japanese citizens in the Nagoya Republic generally cannot understand conversations between Nagoyans.) It helped me remember 従って and 同士.
      Remember, SRS value = 0 if your cards suck.

    • Drewskie
      August 31, 2011 at 09:25

      “Boredom is sometimes – sometimes! – simply a question of mindset:”

      I think that’s a really important point. Sometimes I see people poo-poo the entire concept of SRSing as boring and thus counter-productive, but not everything studious necessarily needs to be boring. If you approach it with the right mindset, stop when you’re tired, and maybe add a little sugar to the medicine, it can be a lot of fun.

  13. Flemmard
    August 31, 2011 at 10:00

    That’s it – “studious” can mean absorbing, nourishing – even relaxing if you have the right attitude.

    I think I’ve always found SRS reps interesting in themselves, because the subject matter of course motivates me. And the better I get – or the less I suck – the more interesting it gets, because I appreciate and retain the nuances of the material better.

    But I had trouble fully enjoying it because to me, it was simply maintenance, not progress. Adding SRS cards was like shopping for funky new Japanese hipster clothes, reviewing them like doing the laundry. 🙁

    But I feel now that adding an SRS card to a deck is like adding a weight disc to a barbell – it’s just the starting point. Then you gotta start the heavy lifting. 🙂

  14. chet
    January 5, 2012 at 11:31

    I think you make a good point about not being unrealistic about what you are going to do, and kind of tricking yourself into making progress by allowing yourself to do very small easy things that don’t seem like work.
    But, on the other hand, you’re kind of just playing with semantics, or redefining words if you will.  You might as well just say “don’t do something you won’t do.”  The traditional wisdom is that doing the “hard” thing is sometimes more rewarding than doing the “easy” thing.  I think there is something to that my friend.  But, I get your point. 

  15. chet
    January 5, 2012 at 11:34

    …or “don’t tell yourself you’re going to do something you won’t do.”  very sensible, but actually quite tricky for many of us who love to dream big and get that little boost from imagining all the hard work we’re going to do to get there.  Being realistic means accepting that we might just be too lazy to do all that.  but ok, let’s just take this one small activity that isn’t too strenuous, but a bit challenging or stimulating, and do that.  anyway, got your point, just fleshing it out a bit. 

  16. Marcos
    July 23, 2019 at 06:00

    nice going

Leave a Reply to JohnK Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *