The Death of Hope

Hugh Hefner (the founder of Playboy Magazine) once quipped that “marriage is the death of hope.” Without commenting on his observation, I would like to offer an alternative one. I think inertia is the death of hope.

If you have forgotten your high school physics, inertia is the property of matter by which the matter retains its state of rest or its velocity, so long as it is not acted upon by an external force. In simplified terms it means that whatever is happening is going to continue to happen unless something changes. There is even a grammatically incorrect aphorism for this phenomenon:

If you always do what you always done, you always get what you always got.

What is it that you want? More money, a challenging career, better health, a loving relationship? Whatever you are doing at this moment has not gotten you what you want. (If it did, you probably wouldn’t be longing for it.) To get it, something needs to change—that is obvious. So why doesn’t it? Inertia. Human beings succumb to inertia. We keep doing what we are doing unless something outside of us changes things.

Inertia explains why people stay in unfulfilling marriages and unfulfilling jobs. It also explains why people accomplish extraordinary things (like starting a charity) when befallen by some tragic event: the inertia is broken.

Inertia is insidious. It is patient, relentless and more difficult to break the longer it is at work. But it is worse than that, because inertia does its dastardly deed by killing hope. Take away a person’s money, they can earn more. Take away their hope and they is doomed.

Hope is an amazing thing. It can drive you to accomplish almost anything. People have started great businesses without money, without education and without experience. But never without hope. It is the only fuel you need. Whatever it is you want, you can start the journey to acquiring it if all you have is hope. Once hope is gone, all that is left is inertia.

I will not lie to you. Inertia is difficult to break on your own. Absent some external event, changing the course of your life by breaking your inertia is not easy. That is why getting fired from your job can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. Getting fired is definitely an external event that will break your inertia. My getting fired many years ago lead to me discovering my passion for writing. I doubt I would have four books published today had I not gotten fired all those years ago.

So, what can you do to try and break your inertia? While inertia kills hope, hope cannot kill inertia, but it can keep it at bay. You must nurture the hope. Nurture it to slow down the inertia just enough to do one thing: take action. Any action. Take one step in the direction of your hope. And then repeat: nurture the hope, take a step. That’s how it is with overcoming inertia: one step at a time. It’s all you can do on your own. There is no shortcut.

Nurture the hope. Take a step. Repeat. Don’t let the hope die.

Are We All Dependents Now?

…these walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, it gets so you depend on ’em .~ from the movie The Shawshank Redemption

Terrific post by Rob Schwarzwalder at the Washington Times which highlights the destruction of self reliance caused by government assistance. He confirms something I have believed for a while which is that our over-sized dependence on government assistance is a direct outgrowth of our desire to avoid risk. And while at first it might seem nice that the government provides “the soothing assurance that should we fail” they will be there to catch us, that safety net does not come without unintended consequences, which he so eloquently captures in this observation:

Reliance on government deters growth not just because it drains money from the private sector but because it suffocates aspiration.

It suffocates aspiration. A terrible price to pay for safety.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall – Damn You

The secret to success is to do something other than nothing. ~ Carl Weisman

If you do not like where you are at in life right now, I have some good news for you  and I have some bad news for you.

Maybe you are unemployed, or underemployed. Maybe you have a job, but you hate it—it does not fulfill you—and you feel trapped. Maybe you are deeply in debt or house poor. Maybe you cannot retire yet because you did not save enough. Maybe you are overweight and out of shape—or worse, sick. Whatever it is that makes you discontented, I have some good news and some bad news.

Maybe you think you are where you are because the government has not created enough jobs. Or your employer shipped your job overseas. Or your union let you down. Or medical care is too expensive. Or younger people have more current job skills. Or the bank lent you more money than you could reasonably afford to repay. Or society has too much fast food. Whatever your belief, I have some good news and some bad news.

The bad news first. The source of all your problems is in the mirror. Step up to the mirror and take a look. The first thing you will notice is that the mirror does not accept your lies. You can lie to everyone else about why you are where you are, but not the mirror. It is a cold and ruthless antagonist that knows the truth, and will not let you run from it. How long can you stand there and stare at the truth? You want to believe the source of your problems is somewhere other than in the mirror, but the mirror knows better. The only thing left for you is acceptance. How long will it take? Time is wasting.

Now for the good news. The solution to all of your problems is also in the mirror: the dream job, good health, financial security. Whatever it is you think you want or need can be found in the depths of the mirror. It is a one-stop shop for all that life has to offer—limited only by your imagination.

Now step up and take another look into the mirror. See the power, the potential, the light. It is there. It may have been dormant for a while, but it is there. You cannot deny that it is there, the mirror does not accept that lie either. It is there. The only thing left for you is acceptance. How long will it take? Time is wasting.

And how will you know of your acceptance, your belief in the power in the mirror? What will be the outward manifestation of your belief? You will take action. You will put one foot in front of the other and start walking away from your problems and toward the magnificent, self-reliant you. And on the day you take that first step, and not some other unknown day in the future, your life will be what you dreamt of it. Thank the damn mirror