Six Reasons Why Doing Hard Things Is Good for the Soul

a boxer walks to the ring
Photo by Attentie Attentie on Unsplash

In 5 Simple Lessons from My Super Slow Weight Loss this Year, I walked you through my meandering weight loss journey. I revealed the diet plan that yielded the best results. If you paid attention, you realized I was successful with this plan in the past, but it was the last one I tried this time. I didn’t want to do hard things.

Remote Controls Made Me Fat and Lazy

I blame it on our culture. Everything is calibrated to make our lives easier. I’m happy dad finally bought a television with a remote control because I was his remote. But the TV remote was the tipping point. Now our lives run on remote controls without remote controls. “Hey Google, turn on my poolside lighting.” I wanted a weight loss plan designed with the same specs in which culture has shaped my expectations. But this mindset made me fat.

I struggled for four months in the wilderness, clawing for an easy way to shed 20 years of an expanding waistline. The answer hovered like a nagging fly I kept swatting away. My stupidity spurred a great deal of self-reflection on the concept of doing hard things, and I have six reasons why doing hard things is good for the soul.

1 — Doing Hard Things Puts You in an Elite Class

Only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions keep and achieve them. Ninety-two percent can’t do hard things. A Harvard MBA study showed that 3% of Harvard MBAs made ten times more money than the other 97% combined. Why?

The 3% had clear, written goals and plans to accomplish them.

Setting and tackling goals require moving through them no matter how you feel. You get up when the alarm clock rings at 5 am and go jogging. And you do it every day. People who allow their moods to dictate daily activity live by the Hedonic principle — they do what feels good and avoid what feels bad. They experience diet amnesia and eat the Krispy Kreme doughnuts when their sinful spouse brings them home.

Elevate yourself. Do hard things.

2 — Doing Hard Things Boosts Your Confidence

You know what I mean. You dread a difficult conversation you need to have with a friend. Or you’re anxious about asking your boss for a raise. Or the idea of a 5-mile jog horrifies you. But you’re exhilarated and empowered when you summon the courage to do the hard things. Taking action builds confidence. Increased confidence results in more audacious goals, leading to greater accomplishments, producing a better world and a better you.

Don’t be a chicken!

3 — Doing Hard Things Makes You Grateful

Doing hard things takes courage, energy, and fortitude. Doing hard things is swimming upstream against the tide of our remote-control culture, which can be stressful. You appreciate the slow, quiet moments when you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. You’re sitting on the beach sipping an umbrella drink because you finally wrote that damn book and got an advance from your publisher. Doing hard things produces gratitude that binging on Netflix can’t do.

4 — Doing Hard Things Inspires Others

Most people aren’t doing hard things. The statistics prove my point.

By contrast, Americans read 20 minutes a day (15–19-year-old Americans read 8 minutes a day). We need more people doing hard things! You may be the only person in someone’s life to set a good example, lead, and motivate. Everyone else is staring comatose at a screen.

5 — Doing Hard Things is Progressively Motivating

I began my weight loss journey in January because I wanted to feel the very best I could. I’m 31 pounds down, feel great, and my goal has progressively changed. For the first time in my post-40 life, I can sculpt some definition into my body. As silly as it sounds, I want to try. This possibility exists because I’ve done hard things consistently and daily for almost seven months. I’m hooked on seeing the results.

6 — Doing Hard Things Teaches You New Things

I thought I was a great writer until I started taking online writing courses at 4am in January. A little information can be pretty humbling yet wildly enlightening. I’m still not a great writer, but I’m better now than seven months ago because I committed to doing hard things. Being consistent on my diet for seven months and losing 31 pounds has taught me I can control “lazy me” instead of letting him whip my ass. Doing hard things means you’re doing new things, taking on new challenges, and forcing your brain and body to shape up.

Wrapping It Up

The life expectancy for an American is 79.05 years — about 623,230,200 breaths. That number seems high unless you’re 55 years old and realize you’ve used over 434,000,000 of your allotment avoiding hard things.

“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”
― William Faulkner

I don’t want to waste more breaths or miss new horizons because I’m too complacent and lazy to do hard things. Such an approach to life cheats yourself and others.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
R. Dennis Brady

R. Dennis Brady

Husband, father, Toby’s friend, writer, fantasy football fanatic, beach lover, blessed child of God.