“Is it hard? Not if you have the right attitude. It’s having the right attitude that’s hard.”
– Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
In my experience, it’s not so much having the right attitude, as it is sustaining the right attitude. High spirits are easy to come by at the beginning stages of the game, but travel a little further down the road and it’s a barren land. I believe this is what causes most of us to not go after what we want.
“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile”
– Roger Staubach
So why do most people give up as they get further down the road? Why is the attitude right in the beginning and wrong later on? Things do get tougher as you progress. If you’re doing mathematics things get more complicated. Workouts get harder as you improve. Getting your mage level in World of Warcraft gets harder the higher the level gets.
I can’t really say what makes doing the hard things easier. What I do know is that as things get harder, we lose sight of why we’re doing it in the first place. We forget the dream that we originally had. A lot of times I fantasize about playing music in front of a crowd, but when I sit down to write, I forgot what got me to try writing in the first place. All I can see is how difficult and tedious writing is. How do I combat this?
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
I’m feel tension when someone says something that they believe to be true for everyone, but I’m going to do it here. Most people who push past any difficulty have a reason to do so. There, I said it. If you don’t have a reason something difficult, then all you have on your mind is how difficult that thing is. In fact, it’s hard just getting through the day-to-day errands of waking up, making lunch, and taking out the trash, if you don’t have an underlying reason. This is what happens during depression. When depressed, people often ask the question “What’s the point?” because they have not “why” behind their “what”.
Having a compelling why will change the attitude. The right attitude is difficult to achieve, but with a clearly defined motive to remind ourselves of, we can get through a lot.
“This afternoon, we were trying to fish, but the fish would not bite”, said Petrus. “Normally, we allow enthusiasm to elude us when we are involved in such mundane activities, those that have no importance at all in the overall scale of our existence. We lose our enthusiasm because of the small and unavoidable defeats we suffer during the good fight. And since we don’t realize that enthusiasm is a major strength, able to help us win the ultimate victory, we let it dribble through our fingers; we do this without recognizing that we are letting the true meaning of our lives escape us. We blame the world for our boredom and for our losses, and we forget that it was we ourselves who allowed this enchanting power, which justifies everything, to diminish—the manifestation of agape in the form of enthusiasm.”
– Paulo Coehlo, The Pilgrimage