Easy Does It

tumblr_lsmnttn3jX1qg5i5zLife is hard. We all know that. It is one of the primary beliefs that helped you gut it out through school subjects you hated, your soul-vampire of a job, and the years when your children, your partner, and your parents all depended on you. When I read through the journals I have kept sporadically throughout my life, I can see how acknowledging that life is hard helps me survive and overcome obstacles.

But, something weird is happening.

It’s not just me; it’s also people I work with, people I coach, and friends from all walks of life. We are being challenged to let things be easy. This is not an altogether new idea. 2000 years ago, Jesus supposedly said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The Buddha tried a life of pain and self-denial, then declared that it was not enlightenment and chose an easier path.

My favorite philosopher Lao Tzu wrote, “The great Way is easy, yet people prefer the side path. Be aware when things are out of balance. Stay centered within the Way.”

It seems to me these days that the easy way is no longer an option for us: it is an imperative. What you are meant to do in the world may have begun with difficulty, but from here on, you are obliged to find the easiest path to all of your objectives. We live in a time of astonishing ease, especially those of us in the first world. Almost every day, at least one person says to me, “I can’t believe it’s that easy.” Guess what? It is.

For example, here are some of the things that seem too easy for me. I was educated to spend hours in libraries shuffling 3×5 note cards, searching through stacks of books, and reading thousands of pages in search of one nugget of truth. Now, I can Google “nugget of truth” and come up with over 2.5 million results in 0.23 seconds. In fact I just did it; how about this? “You are a dream of God come true.” That’s just awesome. That’s just too easy!

Another example: Now that I live in the country, shopping means a full-on expedition requiring at least an hour in transit just to buy groceries or a pair of flip-flops. Some of my neighbors recently told me that they shop online and have all of their purchases delivered to their country home. What? That’s just too easy!

Just one more: I have trouble remembering writing deadlines. So, right now, my wonderful Master Coach Jill Farmer is typing up this newsletter as I dictate it, while I’m giving myself a pedicure. Decadently easy!

By the same token, a dear friend of mine recently found a significant other through an online dating service. My daughters create astonishing works of art on their computers that would take thousands of hours to paint on a canvas. When I set out to plant a vegetable garden, a dear friend who loves to garden came and showed me how. We just ate our first batch of potatoes, a small miracle that required virtually no effort on our part.

All of this easiness is causing great un-easiness. At least a dozen people, over this past month, have asked me for coaching because certain tasks had become so easy they feared they were doing something wrong. I don’t think so. I think that a wave of easiness is rising all over the world. Does mean that people are not suffering or experiencing enormous difficulty? Of course not. But it may mean that even solving the problems of the destitute is meant to be an easier task than we believe. It may mean that the everyday labors of our lives are being facilitated by something that is teaching us to use our striving, tenacity, and grit to do things so huge and beautiful that they have never been possible before.

Do this for me: This month, every time you set out to do any task, ask yourself, “Is there an easier way?” Or, “How can I make this easier?” Can you ask a friend for help? Have you tried Googling it? Are there services out there to help you? Might small miracles happen if you simply ask the powers that be for assistance? It floors me when I ask this question to myself and realize how much easier tasks have become. And, the strength I gained gutting it through the hard parts of life is now free to flow into tasks that have one common purpose: to make things easier for others. That’s why all of this is happening, people. We are a species that works to make things easier. We’re getting really good at it. But, unless we drop the idea “life is hard,” we can’t take advantage of the astonishing ease we have created.

21 replies
  1. Jill
    Jill says:

    Love this message! I believe we need to hear it again and again. So many of us have been raised to believe it must be difficult to be worthwhile. Not so! Thanks for this great reminder.

    Reply
  2. Betsy Also
    Betsy Also says:

    Nailed it.

    (Except I think it is “my yo-oh-oke is eeeeee-eee-ee-ee-eeeezee. My burthen. Is lii-ii-ight.” Or at least so my choir teacher said.XXX

    PS: Thank you for this.

    Reply
  3. andrea h
    andrea h says:

    Getting out of an abusive nearly 30 decades marriage may not seem easy to me now but I’m hoping I’m on my way. Thanks for the article.

    Reply
  4. Kathy R.
    Kathy R. says:

    Just reading this made my day lighter!! I am in a stressful situation right now, but only because I think it so!! The rest of today I will think how blessed I am instead…..Blessed Be….I see the light!!!! 🙂
    I wish the same for all who pass here……

    Reply
  5. Linda
    Linda says:

    As i have progressed through this past ten months, marking time since I was laid off, I have spend it learning, reading, writing and striving to find the answers to what my life means for me. I do believe it should be easy. Martha Beck has been one of the last links I have found in this journey and I absolutely believe what she has found to be true. Within the next few weeks I will either find meaningful work in my current rural community or trust that my life has to move on from here and find the faith and ease to embrace this with a positive and loving attitude. Thank you to everyone for your posts and to Martha for being.

    Reply
  6. Linda
    Linda says:

    I do believe life should be easy. Martha Beck has been one of the last links I have found in my journey over the last several months and I absolutely believe what she has found to be true. Within the next few weeks I will either find meaningful work in my current rural community or trust that my life has to move on from here and find the faith and ease to embrace this with a positive and loving attitude. Thank you to everyone for your posts and to Martha for being.

    Reply
  7. Jennifer Clark
    Jennifer Clark says:

    I agree that it should be easy, and you mention the destitute. What about people who grow up in inner cities with parents who are drug addicts or barely making it on a minimum wage job? The cycle of poverty and inability to get a good education are truly difficult to get out of. Do we minimize that reality by saying – make it easy? Just thinking. Thanks for your work.

    Reply
  8. Andrea Chilcote
    Andrea Chilcote says:

    Those of us who have lived life as if it was a challenge to be reckoned with, find “ease” a bit odd. And, the drivers in the recesses of our psyches that cause us to seek that which is difficult or even impossible scream for attention. I’m learning to ignore them. They know not the damage they might cause.

    Reply
  9. Laurel
    Laurel says:

    I have also been experiencing a period of great ease in my life – after many years of striving. To some extant it feel like the reward for all that hard work, but it also sometimes feels a bit weird – and it’s hard not to feel occasionally guilty. But I do believe that this is how life should be – for all of us. And I hope to spread the word in my own way. Thank you, Martha, for letting me know that I am not the only one feeling this way!
    Laurel

    Reply
  10. Shea
    Shea says:

    Just yesterday I was discussing the notion of “coasting”. My friend took my comment as negative, meaning not engaged, not taking things seriously, not growing personally. I was trying to explain my feelings around that to her, and that she could frame coasting in a positive light, but was not able to quite get my meaning across. It has been a growing feeling in my gut that feels really good. Your writing here has just clarified the whole shebang! Thank you Martha. Once I decided to simplify and conduct my life with ease I have been having way more fun! And stuff is getting done too.

    Reply
  11. Katie
    Katie says:

    Hello Martha Beck. I loved your article and I would so love to believe what you write but no. I cannot! For 3 years now, after my shock divorce from a man I thought was my soulmate, I have been trying to manifest a partner. No luck. I have tried everything, from shamanism to theta healing, from hypnotherapy to EFT, from the Law of Attraction to total alcohol soaked fucked uppness…but nothing works! I have written lists (as you suggest) and treasure maps (as everybody suggests) and feng shuid my bedroom and meditated every day since last October. I have spent weeks and months in not thinking about the whole thing and I have let go and I have released the need and made the most of my life without the one thing I truly would want to have but no.

    Right now I have profiles in 3 dating sites but no. Nothing.

    And I am not the only one. I can easily think of 10 women in my circle of friends – smart, sexy, educated, beautiful who just do not find decent partners. OK, they are all 40+ but still.

    So – some things are not easy. I really would appreciate your insight on this. Thank you! Katie from Northern Europe

    Reply
    • Lorraine
      Lorraine says:

      Some years ago at the age of 45, I left a long-term marriage, I just had to go. I had been married at 16 and I decided that I wanted to be on my own for at least 2 years to sort out who I was and what I wanted. But after 9 months I decided a light, frivolous relationship would be good, I wanted to share moments with someone. And so the person who eventually became husband number 2 wandered into my life within a month of the thought. Now so you know, I am short and rather overweight, which may explain the emphasis in the question I was asked by an attractive colleague. “How,” she said, “did you, YOU, find someone else so quickly when my friends and I have been trying to find someone for years?” My reply, “I always believed I had a lot to give.” She said, “Yes but what did you do? How did you find someone?” I replied again, “I always believed I had a lot to give.”

      Reply
    • Nancy
      Nancy says:

      To the lady who can’t find a date. I totally understand why you are upset. No, really, I get it more than you know. That is why I am writing you to say…. stop. Simply Stop. Get off the dating sites, stop the women’s group, no more list…all of those thing only brings the focus back to “I’m single” and it is a problem. Well it is not a problem. Yes I said it. Being single is not an illness.

      For a change– in your mind set– I am asking you to do what ever it is that makes you happy.

      Not what would making you happy so man will notice you. No! No! No! Do whatever it is that makes YOU happy. The focus is on you and you are more important than any date. You been selling yourself short. The magic is only going to happen when you find your happiness. Than the guy will come in and try to suck up all your happiness and take it away. Just kidding, not if you don’t let it happen, because you are not going to forget that you are the focus. Your happiness not reflected by a man.

      Reply
  12. Sheila Bergquist
    Sheila Bergquist says:

    What a refreshing take on things! I am so tired of hearing about how hard life is (and it is, but it’s depressing to hear it all the time) and I personally try to make things easier. I think you are right on track with this and I hope we all band together to help each other make life easier.

    Reply
  13. Carol
    Carol says:

    “Might small miracles happen if you simply ask the powers that be for assistance? ” – I love that, Martha.

    We are all created with different gifts. When we ask, seek and knock on doors of others who can and will share their gift to make our life easier, miracles happen. The hard part is accepting the gift you don’t have (weakness) and sharing the ones you do.

    Jesus also said “My power is made Perfect in weakness”.

    Reply
  14. Miranda van den Heuvel
    Miranda van den Heuvel says:

    My mantra is: anything that you do more than once can be turned into a system.
    Whether it's an email you write in response to someone (set up a template), a shopping list you set up weekly (create a standard list to which you add or strike off things), things you need to pack for your camping trip (I have boxes that contain camping gear, so when we go I only need to grab them and know everything is in them),… Everything can be turned into a system.
    And systems make life so much easier.
    M

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Enthusiasms: Imagination, Coffee Houses, Contentment, Ease, and Creative Integrity - says:

    […] Easy Does It by Martha Beck. I’m guilty as charged. I constantly find myself muttering, “why does everything have to be so hard?” The fact is, it doesn’t. I love this article by Martha and it reminded me of one of my aspirations this year to create more ease in my life and work. Duly noted. […]

  2. […] Easy Does It by Martha Beck. I’m guilty as charged. I constantly find myself muttering, “why does everything have to be so hard?” The fact is, it doesn’t. I love this article by Martha and it reminded me of one of my aspirations this year to create more ease in my life and work. Duly noted. […]

  3. […] I like easy. Sometimes we think we need to make things hard or they don’t count. Not true. Don’t resist easy. […]

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