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sometimes it is just easier not to…

September 25, 2010

This blogging is a strange business.

Last week I found myself sitting in a coffee shop with 20 minutes spare. I took out my notebook and scribbled down a page and a half of thoughts under the heading “sometimes it is just easier not to…”

It started …  Today is one of those days. One of those days when you find yourself asking “Why?” and then discovering that the question might more appropriately by phrased as “How?”

It shouldn’t be surprising to find that I often write about subjects that are currently occupying my mind and that if you had had the chance to chat with me over coffee I probably would have raised the topic in conversation. Sometimes it is talking to people that crystalises the ideas.

coffee beans

That seems to have been the case with my last post Organic Tobacco. I visited my brother the day before I wrote that post and we talked over coffee. After I published the post he emailed me and pointed out that he saw a lot of the “its not my job …” in what I had talked about with him and finished with some gentle encouragement to step up and stop choosing organic tobacco all the time.

What I thought about saying in my response was that there is a difference between choosing-believing that because it says organic it must be good for you and choosing-knowing that whatever adjective you use it is still tobacco and that ain’t good for you.

I am not sure I believe my own argument. It is different, but not by much.

The reality is that sometimes we do pick organic tobacco, we make choices that seem to lead us to less than optimal outcomes. That is where you start asking why. Why don’t we always choose the path that leads most directly towards the outcome we want? I think the answer is that sometimes it is just easier not to. Steven Pressfield in his great book The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (get a copy and read it twice) calls it Resistance. It is just easier to stay where you are, doing what you do than sitting down and writing the book that you know you have inside you. Or turning that idea into a thriving business. Or signing up for the triathlon. Or any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals. Resistance is subtle, cunning and insidious. It must be overcome every minute of every day.

What I did write in response to my brother’s musings was this:

I know I am 100% responsible for the situations I find myself in each day. I also know that I am reaping today a harvest that was first sown many years ago. So in that respect I planted the seed and there is no use complaining that you wanted oranges when you planted lemon seeds. The best you can do is learn from the past and make sure what ever you plant today is going to grow into what you want in your future – and try to make lemonade.

Like organic tobacco that is true. And it is untrue. If we know the why, then it must be time to turn the question around and ask how.

Megan posted a great response to Organic Tobacco and ended her comments with:

“My point? I want to influence but am afraid to offend… But subtlety just is just not cutting it! I take my mother’s words to heart – that to not speak out about the wrongs in the world, is to agree with them.”

Megan (and her mother) are right of course. But sometimes it is just easier not to …  and that might just be what it is that makes it ‘one of those days’.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Little Brother permalink
    September 27, 2010 11:27 am

    I’m glad you saw my comments as “gentle encouragement”!

    I think the pleasure/pain principle is worth raising – I first came across it in Awaken the Giant within (Tony Robbins). It’s along the lines of that in order to change a behaviour, we need to associate more pain with the existing behaviour (or current choices/circumstances) and more pleasure with changing the behaviour (or the new circumstance).

    The desire to avoid pain and gain pleasure is selfishly human and thus drives a change in behaviour and choices.

    The neat thing is that the pain makes it easier TO do it, rather than not doing it.

    Sounds easy, but we’re still slow learners!

  2. September 27, 2010 9:09 pm

    That is scary! Is it possible that we think alike? I have already drafted my next post and you have hit on the answer to the question it posed. Thanks Little Brother.

    Another good example of the benefits that can arise from sharing a cup of coffee. All good ideas start in the coffee shop …


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