In any given moment, a man’s growth is optimized if he leans just beyond his edge, his capacity, his fear. He should not be too lazy, happily stagnating in the zone of security and comfort. Nor should he push far beyond his edge, stressing himself unnecessarily, unable to metabolize his experience. He should lean just slightly beyond the edge of fear and discomfort. Constantly. In everything he does. – David Deida
Why do we do hard things? It would be so much easier to go through life and only focus on easy things. Just take the easy job, the easy relationship, the easy path. But no, we constantly seek out difficulty and force ourselves into tough situations. Why?
Adversity is the stuff of life. It's where we find meaning in our humdrum realities. Sure, our entire existence may be meaningless but beings built for purpose; even if there truly is no meaning we'll make some up. That might be through mind-numbing TV–watching other people seek meaning and leading meaningful (or at least interesting) lives. Or we can replace meaning with artificial sources. Video games provide difficulty and struggle, which simulates the adversity we crave in life.
The phenomenon is weird if you think about it. Our brains want to sit on the sofa and do nothing, but then another aspect of us craves hardship. Whether it's pushing our bodies to work out, building a side hustle, or picking up a new hobby, there's always some part of you that wants to struggle. That wants to learn more or do more or be more than what you are currently.
But don't forget, we also all have our limits. Don't push yourself impossibly hard because you can. Do it eyes wide open, self aware and conscious of your your limits. Life is optimally lived when you're not way back from the ledge, avoiding living, but equally, not 10 feet over the edge feeling overwhelmed.
You want to be peeking out over the edge.
That gut wrenching feeling, equal parts fear, equal parts excitement, will keep you sharp. It will prevent you from a life of complacency. It will prevent you from a life without meaning.
And gut check yourself once in awhile. What was your edge 3 months or 3 years ago will shift. Are you too comfortable? Are you really living your life, pushing yourself to grow, or are you settling for things that were once difficult but are now easy? Don't aim for "good enough", "happy enough", "fulfilled enough".
Are you heading for a life that is "enough"?