DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968
Originally published January 15, 2015.
Getting rich is simple; save more money than you spend.
Getting fit is simple; eat less and work out more.
Being happy is simple; just avoid pain and seek out pleasure.
So many things in life can be boiled down to simple formula of inputs and outputs. And it’s true; these formulas are simple, and people blithely wield them as evidence of moral failing or a weak backbone. “Of course you can lose weight,” they say, “it’s simple. Just eat less.” And yet we remain a population overweight, overburdened with debt, supporting huge markets for self-help guidance and prescription anti-depressants. The formulas for wealth and health and happiness are simple; this does not mean that executing these formulas is easy. Because we all bring a lifetime of experience to every moment of every day, a collection of triumphs and traumas and scars and glories. Confidences and fears. Certainty and doubt. And depending on our state of mind, no amount of simplification can make a formula easy enough to complete, or no hurdle is high enough to stop us. My wife and I often discuss why I allow certain people to walk all over me during personal or business interactions. After all, the formula is simple: when being bullied or disregarded, simply standing up for your rights and your boundaries will almost always stop the process. And yet I never seem to. Because as simple as it is to just say the word “stop”, it’s not that easy. Somewhere within me is a belief that I deserve to be treated poorly; it’s a belief that overpowers any logical process, or even any desire. No matter how much we dream of a pain-free life, somewhere in us is the belief that we have to carry a burning ember in our closed fist, and no matter how simple we make the instructions (“Just open your hand.”), we continue to serve the original belief. It’s a limiting (and limited) existence, but it’s also very, very common. Holding onto detrimental beliefs is like walking in a well-worn rut, yet great things can happen when we escape it.