Effort and Ease

Recently I noticed there’s an interesting relationship, a certain tension, between the concepts of effort and ease. Just as one can’t understand darkness without experiencing light, as they say, you can’t know true ease in your life or your body without applying a bit of effort to get there. 

We have all felt at one time or another that certain things in life should just be easy. But the more I look at it, the more I see that’s pretty much never true. 

Ease doesn’t just show up… you put it there. Even something like groceries; they don’t simply materialize in your fridge, offering a sense of security about being fed. You make the effort to get them.

Having the experience of ease, in most any case, requires effort. 

Rest isn’t rest if you did nothing.

Thoughts become things – choose the good ones. – Mike Dooley

I believe completely that our thoughts drive nearly everything about our being. If your thoughts are of poor quality, people can see it on your face. Everything about your life carries the same vibe, that same poor quality. Did you know you have an electromagnetic field? People can literally feel you. Everything around you resonates at whatever vibe you’re pushing from inside. 

So to my mind, our experience of the world always begins with the thoughts that roll around in our head all day every day. The quality of those.

When I started seeing the connection between the inner world that I thought only I could hear, only I was privy to, and the world at large, I started cleaning things up. I started paying attention to the connection also between the constant commentary in my head, and the way I always felt, and subsequently acted. 

When I caught a negative or unproductive thought starting to spin in my mind, I would say something else, create another thought to replace it. That’s the short story of why mantras are such a big deal to me. They are how I replace the awful, or mean, sad, or desperate, defeated thoughts that sometimes come so easily. 

One of my favorite mantras is:

I make the rules, and I choose to let it be easy.”

I use this when I feel like I don’t have enough time, or I don’t know if I can handle something, or I don’t want to see someone, or even if I don’t want to perform a task. It’s got a kind of badass feel to it, don’t you think? There’s power behind it. 

I make the rules. I choose to let it be easy. So back off. 

This mantra is great for a lot of things. It has really become a friend over the years. The other day I was pondering it a little more, and thinking about how often we actually need to apply some effort in order to experience the “ease” part. There is no light without the dark, and there is no ease without some measure of effort to find it.

Applying effort to experience ease in our bodies

We can observe this physically, in our own bodies. If we lay around all day on the couch watching TV, it’s likely to affect our back or shoulder or even our trick knee. All that “ease” will create a definite experience of not-ease. 

If we don’t ever move or stretch, things start to atrophy and feel generally terrible. Think of the old rubber band you have in your junk drawer, or in the pencil jar on your desk. At one time that rubber band was new, springy and stretchy. But you haven’t needed it so it’s sitting around waiting to be needed, and as it does, it’s growing ever more brittle, dry, and old. 

That’s the nature of elastic but it’s also the nature of our bodies, muscles, and brains. Use it or lose it. There is no ease in laying around waiting to be used. There is ease that comes when our tools… our bodies and our brains… are used to benefit us.

You are what you eat. Make it quality.

It’s there in our diet, too, the idea that ease is the result of effort. You literally are what you eat. What you put into your body is used as fuel, to keep you running. If your body doesn’t actually recognize it as food, something it can use for fuel, your efficiency as a human begins to break down. 

Your brain is not fed correctly, and your body doesn’t receive the vitamins and nutrients it needs to survive, if you’re always eating potato chips and processed meat. If you’ve ever eaten a meal that “didn’t agree with you”, I don’t need to tell you that what you put in your body can create a definite lack of ease. And if you continue to do it, that lack of ease doesn’t eventually go away. You don’t start experiencing better digestion or clarity of thought. You don’t adapt… not favorably anyway. The lack of ease eventually becomes dis-ease.

Can’t live with them, or can’t live with YOU?

The concept of effort to promote ease is absolutely there in all our relationships with other people, and even more importantly, with ourselves. It takes a lot of effort for me to keep tabs on my thoughts, my self-talk. To remind myself to talk to me like I’m my own best friend… to emulate the friendships I want, starting with the one with me… involves a great degree of self-study and effort. 

But indeed, the result of that effort is ease. Knowing the why and how of my actions, allows me to let go of whatever I can’t change right now, and to move toward what I can… which happens to be where my ease can be found. 

LOL – The Life Of Leisure

We can apply effort in order to appreciate the sweet fruit of ease, just about anywhere in life. 

We really can make the rules, choose to let it be easy, and we can really mean it too. How? By doing the work it takes to be strong enough to withstand the unknown. 

By letting whatever is before us, be as scary or inconvenient as it wants to be, because we know our own strength. We know it intimately because we test it regularly. Effort goes into it. We lean into that strength, heat it up, feed it well, love it sincerely. 

We work hard for the ease that comes with giving the rest up… letting go of what’s not us, and what doesn’t serve us, so we can put more effort into the things that do serve us, and that are the very essence of us. 

It’s from this place that we find our ease. From the fire in here.

“I make the rules, and I choose to let it be easy.”

True, many things in life are not automatically sweet and easy. Life is tough. It’s a test. We don’t just get to float through it because we’re “spiritual” or something…

But we can find ease, experience true rest, because we are in fact so strong, so sure in ourselves and what we’re doing, that we turn right around and end up softer than ever. We’re so prepared, so rested, so nourished, so present, that we’re easy like Sunday morning, all the time.

Softer than ever, and more badass than ever too. So gangster.


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