Easy choices, hard life — Hard choices, easy life

09 February 2020

We were waiting in a rented car while being in a small town in the East of France. A town without charm. We had to stay here for one more hour before going to the wedding we were attending.

Bored, with nothing special to do now that we had visited the city, I browsed a bit on YouTube. I fell on a video by Tim Ferriss which looked kinda okay — I didn't know the guy that much, except that he was the host of a famous podcast which never interested me particularly.

It was about "defining fears instead of goals". The video was around 15min, so I launched it. It started weirdly. The guy was talking about a suicide attempt, and the tone was dark, and at the same time, he was also joking.

My girlfriend was next to me and I heard a "what are you watching?!" with a dubitative look. I continued.

Surprisingly, I still think about this talk regularly, even 7 months later. This is what I kept in mind:

In the Greco-Roman world, people used stoicism as a comprehensive system for doing many, many things. But for our purposes, chief among them was training yourself to separate what you can control from what you cannot control, and then doing exercises to focus exclusively on the former. This decreases emotional reactivity, which can be a superpower.

[…] And I did find a quote that made a big difference in my life, which was, "We suffer more often in imagination than in reality," by Seneca the Younger, who was a famous Stoic writer.

[…] "The Cost of Inaction." Humans are very good at considering what might go wrong if we try something new, say, ask for a raise. What we don't often consider is the atrocious cost of the status quo -- not changing anything.

[…] And the last was his mantra, which he applies to everything, and you can apply to everything:

"Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life."

The hard choices -- what we most fear doing, asking, saying -- these are very often exactly what we most need to do. And the biggest challenges and problems we face will never be solved with comfortable conversations, whether it's in your own head or with other people.

Initially, we were not sure what to think of this. Then, we discussed a bit. This sounded so logical, so simple, so obvious. But yet, thinking in these terms was really eye-opening.

This talk is weird, disconcerting, with a strange tone and discourse. A bit pompous, especially with the business references distilled inside some really horrible anecdotes. But I would still recommend to watch it.