“You can only grow if you’re willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” ~Brian Tracy
With apologies to everyone who is from somewhere else or lived before 1776, we Americans want everyone to believe that we live in the greatest country in the history of humanity and that makes us the greatest humans beings ever.
We even have data to back up our bravado: our GDP, the quantity of our millionaires and even billionaires, and our weapons power. We have more movie stars, more rock stars, and more celebrities who are celebrated for being celebrities than anybody. That’s right, by anything we choose to pay attention to, we’re the greatest.
America certainly seems to be the land of achievement. So how did I get to be so lazy? It seems I have had an attraction to “low hanging fruit.”
I am intrigued by solutions that come in the form of a pill. I want growth without the necessity of change. In short, I am a typical American.
The fact is I am a product of my environment. I have spent my life being inundated by marketing messages telling me “you deserve it,” “do it the easy way,” and “lose weight while you sleep.”
There seem to be such an abundance of easy solutions. Why on earth would I ever consider doing anything hard or time consuming?
I had to turn lazy. I wasn’t born that way. Like everyone else, I came into this world with nothing but possibility. I had no notion of limitation. “Work” wasn’t a dirty word. In fact, I worked at everything with joy.
Do you know I learned how to both walk and talk with no schooling whatsoever? True, Mom and Dad were encouraging. But I have a sneaking suspicion I would have figured it out anyway. I really wanted it.
America, the Land of the Free
As I got older, I formed a really bad habit: I began comparing myself to others. Were my grades as good as other kids my age or my siblings? Could I run as fast? Did I have as many friends? I developed an aching need for these things. I wanted this stuff and if I could get it on the cheap, so much the better. In fact, free was better yet.
My world offered a lot of “free.” At least, they said it was free. But it wasn’t really. There was always an unspecified cost. I just started accumulating the debt of it.
Since everyone else seemed to be amassing that same debt too it all felt normal. Normal was proclaimed by gifted marketers and copywriters as highly desirable. Who was I to argue?
Being cool just came with drinking the right beer. Being refined came with wearing the right clothes. Being successful came with driving the right car. Never mind that I wasn’t even sure I liked beer. Fashion is such a moving target I secretly felt I would never grasp it. And cars, they just got more and more expensive.
When did free become so hard and time consuming?
Too Fast for My Own Good
So I graduated from free to fast. Okay, I am now willing to pony up the bucks so long as it’s lickety-split. If a Porsche makes me instantly debonair, I’ll fork over the dough. Bring on the shortcuts!
Years and years of this kind of reasoning saw millions of dollars run through my hands. But all of this stuff was consumable. It went away, washed down the drain, and wore out. Sure, I had fun. But what did I have to show for it?
I will not discount the thrilling experiences, fond memories, and good times. But there was no permanence in this life of quick fixes.
After many lessons (more than I care to admit) and much pondering, I started to turn the battleship that is my mind. Maybe counting the cost is a good idea. Maybe the purposeful expenditure of time is worthwhile. Those were the new theories anyway. So I determined to test them out.
Something for Something and The Slow Fix
What I discovered was that a mindful use of my time and resources created a new and bigger world. I built useful foundations that can take a beating and still stick around. I found that selfishness had too high of a price tag on it and that indolence just wasn’t worth it.
These days I focus on abundance. The fact that there is a price for things makes them valuable. The requirement of time makes them precious. Abundance springs from a mindful investment in value.
It is no longer about give and take; it is about giving and receiving. Taking requires no willing giver. In fact, it usually prods unwilling givers. But receiving requires cooperation, collaboration, and acceptance. It also draws these things. True giving cannot exist without true receiving and vice versa. It’s a package deal.
All the money that washed over me and away is gone, but it wasn’t meant to stick. The money I encounter these days has a new adhesive quality unknown to me when I didn’t truly value it.
I am older now. Arguably, I have less time left. But I don’t mind expending my shortening time for worthwhile things. After all, that is what time is built for.
It turns out I can’t afford the phony promises of something for nothing and I don’t have time for quick fixes. From here on out it’s slow food, quality over discounts, and nothing free with strings attached. I am starting to suspect that this was the American Dream all along.
Photo by Luz Adriana Villa A