Why It's Easier to Just Not
It's is easier to just not. It's easier to say no, to not get dressed and leave your house for a party at night. It's easier to stay at the job that you don't love rather than applying for new jobs, or starting the business you've always dreamed of. It's easier to not book the hair appointment or get new glasses. It's easier to not put in the effort- to watch Netflix or scroll through Facebook instead of doing the thing you wanted to do, to order in than cook, to put off making the big decision or seeking help where you need it. It's just easier not to.
It's easier to just do what you've always done. And in fact, your brain would love that. Your brain wants to ensure your safety, and maintaining the status quo is an easy way to protect yourself from any unknown harm, risk, or possible death that doing something totally different may bring. Your brain also wants to be lazy. It takes a lot of energy to do new things, change the way you think about something, gear up to face fear and insecurity, undo old habits, face discomfort of change; all of that takes a lot of energy from the brain.
But what about when you really want to change? What about when you don't like what you keep doing, or when you know that what you keep repeating isn't giving you any of the results you truly want in your life? When something is important to you, it will keep popping up, its voice will keep coming in, and there will be no doubt about what you truly want. So why is it so hard to just do it?
When faced with a choice, your subconscious brain will consider and make a decision based on a few things:
1) Habit: what usually happens in this situation, or what response is the brain already used to?
2) Safety: what choice involves less risk, discomfort, unknowns?
3) Energy Conservation: what choice will take less mental and physical energy?
4) Pleasure: what choice will give more immediate pleasure and less difficulty?
With these considerations, it's no wonder that your default is most often to just not do the thing, especially if you don't have to.
But the long term result of doing what's easy, is never making any headway on the things that are important to you- those things that keep nagging at you. Yes it's easier to just not, but that's because the brain is a short term thinker- it's simply trying to keep you alive. It hasn't caught up to the modern world we're living in or the fact that we're in a self-actualization game now versus a basic needs of survival game. So to do what you truly want to do takes a willingness to not rely on your basic instincts for direction.
Luckily we have our pre-frontal cortex- the part of the brain that manages our true desires, our will, our goals and our ability to follow our higher decisions for the betterment of ourselves, versus our lower brain which sends out more basic signals for our immediate survival. In order to do the things we want to do, we have to access that higher, rational mind.
Mel Robbins has a whole book about activating your pre-frontal cortex in order to stay true to your higher goals. It's called The 5 Second Rule, and it's oh so simple. As soon as you notice the lower part of your brain piping up (the one that wants to keep you alive by maintaining the status quo and telling you that it's easier to just not), you activate the 5 Second Rule. That means re-focusing your energy into a totally different task of counting backwards from five. 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1. By doing this you've just awakened a very conscious part of your brain and prevented yourself from going down the rabbit hole of old patterns. Upon saying 'one', you then get right to a pre-determined goal or to-do. You don't second guess anything, you simply act. 5-4-3-2-1, GO. This pattern interrupter is super easy. It means noticing when your old patterns, thoughts, choices or lower brain impulses are getting you off track, counting 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1, then doing what your higher intention for growth and longer term satisfaction is. When it comes to food, this could mean 5-4-3-2-1, putting said food down and going to your journal, or noticing a disempowering patterned thought and 5-4-3-2-1, practicing your more empowered thought, 5-4-3-2-1-getting your sneakers on instead of lying on the sofa, 5-4-3-2-1 prepping your lunch for tomorrow before you get on your computer, 5-4-3-2-1 making breakfast before you do anything else in the morning.
It will always seem easier to just not, because whatever you've been doing is what you've been getting good at, and the brain will want to stick to that- even if it's ruining your life. Doing what's in your best interested isn't going to always be easy- if it were, we'd all be living our best lives. It's hard work, it takes commitment, and it takes a consciousness that you likely haven't activated in this way before. You don't have to change anything if you don't want to. You can definitely just do what you've been doing- keep bingeing, keep not exercising, keep not addressing that part of you that feels unfulfilled and unsatisfied. After all, that's easier. But who said easier had anything to do with well-being and satisfaction? Well-being, satisfaction, pride, joy, contentedness, energy, power, fulfillment, strength, follow-through, personal growth, self-belief... that's what's on the other side of easy. Don't let easy hold you back from your dreams. You'll never regret working your ass off for the things you truly want.