Easy Way/Hard Way?

By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

As early as I can remember the phrase, “easy way/hard way?” was a daily question for my brothers, sisters and me. Don’t worry, I am not about to share a hardship- not at all… it’s a pleasant memory because it was what our Dad asked us nightly when it was time for bed. We’d all be in our pajamas and when it was your turn for bed my Dad would ask, “easy way/ hard way?” Easy way you walked upstairs and went to bed. End of story. Hard way he held your ankles and you wheelbarrowed up the stairs using your upper body strength. There were about 10 stairs, then a landing, a turn, and a few more stairs. It was hard, but boy did you feel accomplished when you did it! I am not sure how this would stand in current society but I am grateful my parents offered us the easy way/hard way. The hard way builds character and resilience.

Before you think I’m up on my soapbox lecturing…I’ll back the bus up a bit. I most certainly have taken the easy way lots of times, rebelled, “lost my compass” so to speak. Terrible decisions. Those were not good times and I learned the hard way that the hard way was a better way to live. The hard way can be a challenge sometimes; especially when it means taking a firm stand against something you know is not right. The hard way often disappoints people who want you to take the easy way. Disciplining children for instance is hard. They get mad at you. And everybody wants their kids to be their friends these days. Letting go of toxic people is harder than taking the easy route by just avoiding them. It’s easy to procrastinate and put off goals, but it’s hard to make that list and start to really work on what needs to be done. I have a relative that does all her adult kids’ laundry because it’s easier then teaching them and having them complain. So, nobody is learning any adult life skills in that house which is going to make it very difficult later in life. Doing it the hard way can ironically prevent things from becoming difficult later on!

I will admit I did not have my sons wheelbarrow up the stairs as kids but they both have had to make major choices in their lives where the easy way would have been quicker and gratifying in the moment, but the long-term results disappointing and difficult. Because I was taught to not take the easy way out…I advised the same for them. My youngest got a job offer his 3rd year of college. He did not like college and was not applying himself so the offer was very appealing. Although it was in his chosen career path, I knew that without finishing that degree, he would stay stagnant in that particular industry. In the end, he decided to finish college, which took an extra year. The hard way! Today he comments often on how he would never be doing what he is doing had he taken that job offer. My oldest son had a choice to make as well. He was in a bad place. He knew that if he wanted to have any kind of future, he had to leave all he knew behind. So, on a cold February day, he got on a plane and moved to a city far from home where my sister lived. He stayed there for 7 years, met his wife, started his own business and moved back home full of life and grateful he took the hard way. He just had his first child and I am now a grandmother. That was not a possibility before his hard decision. The hard way pays off! Look at my shoulders! All those wheelbarrows…….

Next time you are at a proverbial crossroad, take a look ahead. Will the easy road get you where you want to go or can you find the strength to take the harder road that goes beyond where you want to go and to places you may never see if you choose otherwise. It’s not a hard decision… it’s easy!