Level Up: The Difference Between a Life of Ease and an Easy Life

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Listen to this post here:At the root of what many of us are seeking in our lives is a desire for greater ease. Often, however, we confuse the word “ease” with the word “easier”. We think that the more we show up to coaching, the more books we read, the more we journal, and the more we immerse ourselves in personal development, the easier our lives will become.In doing so, we miss the point.When I first stared therapy, I thought that by the time I finished, I just wouldn’t have problems anymore. Troubling situations, events, and people would breeze past me and I would weather them all with a smile.Needless to say, this did not happen. In retrospect, the vision I had for my future self was more akin to being stoned than being authentic.I'm not the only one to have fallen into this trap; this misperception is one of the most common reasons people stop pursuing self-awareness; because they expect it to make their lives easier and feel bitterly disappointed when that isn’t the case. In the process, they overlook the true benefits of this journey.What I’ve realised is that self-awareness and self-acceptance introduce more ease into our lives, but they don’t necessarily make our lives easier. "Easier" suggests not having negative, challenging experiences, whereas "ease" is about how we respond to these feelings. We still feel pain, frustration, hurt, anger, and an array of other uncomfortable, distinctly un-easy, feelings, but we stop fighting them and learn to listen to and accept them for what they are.Yesterday, as I was reading "Stop Being Mean to Yourself” by Melody Beattie (a good read, but more of a travel memoir than a how-to book), I came across the following passage. To me, this sums up the paradox we all face as we grow, and implicitly highlights the difference between developing a greater sense of ease as we move through life and having an easier life:“Video games, the kind that come with a computer, often have different levels of play: beginner, intermediate, and master. When you move to a new level of play, it doesn’t get easier. It becomes more of a challenge. The playing field is larger. The action is faster and more complicated. In Aikido, or any other martial art, there are many different levels, or dans, of skill. Each time a student moves to the next level, he or she has to pass a test. And when the student reaches that new level, it’s not easier. He or she is required to use all the skills acquired so far, plus learn new ones. The new level is more complicated, more difficult, and more of a challenge. And however accomplished, the place where a martial art student practices is called a dojo. That means place of enlightenment. Some people say our lives are our dojo.”In life, we level up expecting things to get easier, but that's not how growth works.Instead, we will face a new set of challenges, and, with those challenges, a new set of opportunities for a richer, bolder, more authentic life.Does this resonate? Where are you levelling up at the moment?

Image: Lacey Raper