Stop Trying Hard. Try Easy.

This entry is part of 5 in the series Hard and Easy

There’s a difference between:

(A) Things that are good for you, and
(B) Things that are good for you and that you’ll actually do.

Most so-called New Year’s resolutions are type (A). They sound heroic. They sound “disciplined”. They work. It’s just that no one in all of human history has ever actually carried them out, except under duress.

Kaizen and “just showing up” are type (B). They seem so easy, so doable, so simple, that they couldn’t possibly help. Not only that, but, the cool thing is, a string of type (B) things can and will get you (A)-level results.

Don’t be a hero. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to stop doing bad things. I know you won’t. You know you won’t. We all know you won’t. Instead, just make it very inconvenient to do the wrong thing, and very convenient to do the right thing.

In the long run, (in)convenience almost always triumphs over the human will. Don’t master your will. Don’t become a better person. Master convenience. Move the chess pieces that are the elements of your daily life; change what it is that’s convenient to do and/or not do.

Don’t stop eating bad food. Bad food tastes awesome and you know it. Just don’t allow any bad food in your house. Make it inconvenient to access. Don’t eat vegetables. Just have them cut up and sitting in front of you.

Don’t go running. You know you’d rather be at home watching Daily Show episodes. Just step outside with your sneakers on.

Don’t do only Japanese. Just only have Japanese stuff to do.

This is a chess game with your vices. You don’t win by becoming more moral, you win by creating environments and situations that make victory stochastically inevitable. You don’t win by trying hard and struggling and straining, you win by observing, maneuvering and tweaking. Don’t be the sweet-but-doomed fool. Don’t be the hapless meathead with a heart of gold. You’ll get pwned by yourself if you do that. Instead, be a player. Be a winner.

Metaphorically speaking, there’s a magical bubble around all of us. Typically it’s about one meter in radius, give or take. In terms of information and physical objects, you more or less control what comes into this bubble. But once something is inside the bubble, it more or less controls you.

The trick isn’t to control or manage yourself, but to control and manage, as far as possible, the contents of this bubble. You can be a total bum — lazy, impulsive, neurotic — but coast your way toward good or even highly impressive performance because of a little bit of bubble-handling. The language of this bubble is the language you will learn, whether you want to or not. Handle the bubble — handle the environment — and you’re basically good to go.

Try, test and tweak. Just don’t try hard. If you’re trying hard, you’re probably doing it wrong. Trying hard sucks and it never lasts.

Stop trying so hard and start having fun.

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  7 comments for “Stop Trying Hard. Try Easy.

  1. fdsfdaafsd
    January 9, 2011 at 14:14

    Ahhh I see it’s almost like liar game. Or at least I would like to think about it. The main character is a meathead who tries to have a heart made out of gold but she gets pwned. If it weren’t for her luck to meeting the smart guy she would have been pwn. HE WAS JUST THERE FOR HER CONVIENTLY. It doesn’t matter how moral or how rightous you are in that game. The fact is if you have no plans or stregigies you ARE SCREWED.

    The only reason she even survives in that game is because she hangs out with the main smart guy which means she will GURANTEE her victory no matter. As the show moves on she does get smarter and learns how to pwn people by just being in that game and BEING with him. It’s almsot the same as you said Khatz “You MAKE luck”.

    Oh well rant over. I agree the people who end up getting nothing done are the people who have crappy beliefs and luck who work the hardest. They may have high morals but that doesn’t get them anywhere. They need to set up a system where it is almost impossible to NOT get things done. It will be done regardless or not almost anything happens.

    Lazy people aren’t bad at what they are doing they are just BAD at what they are not doing. They not only have crappy beliefs but also horrible tools. They just need to make it so it’s impossible to do bad things. This is the true key to success. Hard work is not the key no matter what it is your luck. The luck that you have to create to make greater tools and have beliefs that move foward. Anyways rant over so if your going to take anything from this rant it’s that you don’t need to try hard to get things dones. Nope you just have to set up a genious system that gurantees you get things done no MATTER how lazy you are.

  2. January 11, 2011 at 08:37

    ピンポン!
    Convenience can be a jerkね. This article lines up pretty perfectly with some of my thoughts.
    I made a little game to help motivate me to kick some of my bad habits and start good ones. And it has worked wonders so far. Once in a while I give into temptation still, but the temptations seem to be spreading further and further apart over time since I started utilizing this game.

    I hope it helps.
    hatchjapan.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/hatching-habits/

  3. Jason
    January 14, 2011 at 03:24

    I have a question that a little off-topic.

    Basically I’m doing the AJATT thing and I love it. I watch anime, news, TV, whatever I like.

    I really, REALLY want to understand everything they say.

    So a lot of people know that anime follows the manga, not just the story, but the dialogue as well 95% of the time. Nothing is changed. It’s mostly exactly word-by-word.

    So sometimes when I don’t understand a sentence they say. I would listen to it many more times.

    But sometimes, I would give up and look up what they say in the manga (in Japanese of course).

    Does this hurt my listening skills?

    Sometimes I would listen to it 20-30 times…I still have no clue what they’re saying.

    For example、 In Naruto there was a dialogue like:

    悲しい時は身一つ。。。。

    SO the 身一つ。。。I couldn’t figure out what it was. I thought it was ひとつ、みひつ。。。Makes no sense.

    After seeing the manga I knew it was 身一つ。

    But I wish I could figure this out before reading the manga.

    • herman
      January 21, 2011 at 15:52

      I had the same problem learning French. Or rather, it’s not a problem but a phase of the natural process. My way of handling it is a bit different from yours. I try not to think about the part I don’t understand but convince myself it would come to me later natually. I try not to look it up in the subtitles (neither in my native language or target langugae). Even if when I can capture the sound of a word so well that I can more or less spell it out, I still don’t bother to consult it in the dictionary, all for the sake of creating my effortless aquisition. And magic things do happen. You’d find yourself understanding tons of things that you never thought you’d be able to do it when it hit you the first time. Just like doing a puzzle, piece by piece, one day the completed picture would be presented in front of you.

  4. Sam
    January 22, 2011 at 05:07

    Use a website like tatoeba.org/ to get sample sentences.

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