I’m not just not a morning person, I’m an anti-morning person. I’m half asleep almost every time I get dressed. My body runs an automatic process, a program called “get dressed,” yours probably does too, even if you are a morning person. The entire program can run while I am not so much awake, it can run while I’m thinking of other things, it can run without me fully realizing it’s running.
I could make the the whole thing difficult. I could decide some night that I wasn’t going to run the “get dressed” program the next morning. I could decide to reinvent, as much as possible, the entire getting dressed ritual. I could spend hours getting dressed. I could do all that, but what would it accomplish? The program works, the easy thing suffices.
I like to do the easy thing. There are heroic souls (or those who like to pose as heroes) who are fond of saying “do the hard thing” or “challenge yourself,” or, my personal favorite, “there’s no such thing as problems, only opportunities” (that last one especially pisses me off, but let’s save if for another time).
But the easy things work. Automatic processes allow us to do the things we need to regularly do without learning a new skill every time we do it. And if you think it’d be fun to not run a “get dressed” program and do it a different way every time, go help a family with a toddler or two, tell them you will get the kids dressed and ready to leave whenever they go somewhere. No, the automatic processes are crucial.
Sometimes though a more interesting challenge than “get dressed” comes along. You might be given a chance to show that you aren’t bothered by those who oppose you. And maybe the offer would be easy to duck. You could simply refuse the offer and there would be no dishonor, no repercussions. Sometimes the correct answer is indeed “no.” But sometimes the thing to do is to accept.
You might end up better off if you accept and meet the challenge head on. Maybe you don’t utterly destroy every one of your foes, because you don’t live in an adventure movie, but you emerge better nonetheless. Sometimes the difficult thing is the right thing to do.
So how do you know when it’s right to ignore a challenge and when it’s right to meet it? That’s a challenge in itself. I won’t claim to be able to tell you and I’d be leery of those who would.