beware the quick fix

Today we ask that you be wary of any “quick and easy fix.”

Humans are very paradoxical creatures.  On one hand, you believe that life is a struggle, and that people earn merit and display virtue by struggling.

On the other hand, everyone is always looking for a “quick and easy fix” to their problems.  Even people who are really invested in their struggle identity, and perhaps especially those people, all salivate at the thought of a quick and easy fix.

Really, they are two sides of the same coin.  

Looking for the “quick and easy fix” is just addictive thinking.  It is like the person who forces himself through the grueling, painful, joyless workout and then rewards himself with a sugary treat — thus defeating the purpose of the workout.  The sugary treat is a “quick fix” for the pain and misery of the workout.

Humans work themselves into exhaustion and sickness, then reach for the quick fix of stimulants and pharmaceuticals to keep themselves going.

Of course, as any child’s fairy tale will inform you, the “quick and easy solution” is always anything but.

If you are already sick, exhausted, and mentally unstable, stimulants and pharmaceuticals will only mask the symptoms.  Down the road, you face complete physical collapse, severe illness, possibly terminal illness.

Quick fixes never work out.  It is like patching over a problem.  The problem doesn’t go away.  Under the patch, it only gets much worse.

You must extricate yourself from the pattern of struggle and misery, ameliorated by quick fixes.

In the old Roman Empire, people kept slaves.  In order to keep the slaves quiescent despite their lives of drudgery, once a year the slaves got a holiday, called Saturnalia.  They were “free” for a day, and could get drunk, participate in orgies, mock their masters without punishment, and generally go wild.  This “quick fix” kept them quiescent in their bondage for the rest of the year.

How many people today still live lives like those Roman slaves.  Drudgery and toil, punctuated by little Saturnalias.  Get drunk, get high, cheat on the wife.  Even this brief release is preferable to those who never allow themselves any release at all, living lives of continuous repression and toil only made tolerable by stimulants and pharmaceuticals.  

Don’t believe in “quick fixes.”  Whether it’s a drug or an offer in the mail — beware.

But don’t believe in struggle, either.

The well-lived life feels like an enjoyable, healthy challenge.  Always, there is growth, learning, and new experiences.  You work your muscles, but it is not painful or miserable.  It may be uncomfortable, but you certainly don’t need drugs to numb yourself to the experience.  It is like a good yoga class, a good bike ride.  Sometimes it is very challenging, sometimes less so.  But you’re never on auto-pilot, going through the motions.  The basic feeling tone is good, and enjoyable.

There are no quick fixes on a bike ride, or in a yoga class.  You can’t shorten the distance, you can’t skip to the end.  Nor would you want to.  You have no desire to reward yourself for the activity, because you don’t perceive it as a chore, or punishment.  It is only when you view life activities as chores and punishments that you crave quick fixes.

Quick fixes can be very insidious.  It manifests as compulsive, addictive behavior: plastic surgery, drugs, shopping, gambling.  Gambling is a classic “quick fix” scenario that never works out in the long-term.  Most criminal behavior is a quick fix.  Sadly, suicide is its own quick fix.

When you stop seeing life as a struggle, you will also stop craving quick fixes.  You’ll stop fantasizing about winning the lottery.  That is a slave’s fantasy.  

Life is good.  It is not punitive.  You are no one’s slave.  Your life is meant to be enjoyed.  All humans innately enjoy healthy challenges, if they have not been conditioned to believe they are slaves, and that life is toil and drudgery that can only be eased by quick fixes.