Why It Has Become Easy To Give Up

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Why It Has Become Easy To Give Up

Last week, a friend of mine broke up with her boyfriend of two months. She had met her ex and posted a photo on Instagram. Her boyfriend saw it and gave her a piece of his mind, saying she was using him. She felt he didn’t deserve her, so she dumped him.

The thing is, my friend had dumped her ex to hook up with her current boyfriend, a fact the latter was aware of. Maybe he saw the photo and got jealous. Maybe he felt insecure that she would leave him and return to her ex.

I’m not trying to justify his behavior, nor am I trying to judge hers. My point is: she didn’t have to think for long to date or dump this guy on whom she’d had a crush for two years.

She isn’t the only one.

It has become easier than ever for us to give up when going gets tough, rather, as soon as the going signals it might get tough.

We give up on a new task when we’re not instantly good at it. We give up on friendships and relationships when others’ beliefs vary from ours. Second chances are so ancient they probably went extinct with dinosaurs.

But why?

Let’s rewind to the time before smartphones. We did the same things over and over again. We relied on the same sources for entertainment and hung out with the same people. We worked hard to make things work.

The reason: limited choices.

The Perils of Abundance of Choice

Today, our lives are filled with the opposite. And ironically, this abundance of choice makes it easy for us to give up. No sooner does something demand effort than we escape into the welcoming arms of instant gratification.

Grappling with a difficult task? It’s easier to give up and move to a new one. Had a fight with a friend? It’s easier to scroll through Instagram, watch Netflix, or drop a “hi” to 20 acquaintances. (At least one of them will respond.) There is no empty moment in our lives, so the guilt of not sticking to the course has no space.

It’s not just that we can make excuses like “I wasn’t even trying” or “I just can’t do it right now.” We also we no idea where our lives are headed. Many people forget the goals they’d enthusiastically worked on last week. (I’m one of them.)

Each time we give up on something we cared for or were passionate about, the void inside us gets bigger, which we keep trying to fill with more passive consumption. But human beings were never meant to be passive consumers. Our DNA is encoded with the need to create, to pursue a larger purpose, and to discover ourselves in the process[1]Think about it. When did you last feel happiest? When you were watching Netflix and scrolling social media? Or when you were intently focused on a task you’re passionate about?.

Our smartphones are pushing us away from who we are meant to be. Is it any surprise that our mental health is getting worse? Not to mention the drubbing our self-esteem is taking and the atrophy of our brain that’s making us an easy target for mental ailments.

I don’t know what all this will culminate into 30 years down the line when we get old, but I know it won’t be good.

Act Like You Don’t Have a Choice

Strange as it sounds, what sucks can be good for you. Engaging in hobbies that don’t involve a screen—or just getting bored—can lead to “Aha!” moments. Embracing the sucky feeling while learning a new skill can make you an expert in the long term. Trying to understand others’ perspectives when their opinions differ from yours can broaden your horizons.

Welcome these aspects that push you outside your comfort zone. They build your character. Meanwhile, taking the easy way out weakens it.

Sticking to tasks that stretch you will make you feel fulfilled. Working to maintain the relations that matter will help you build a support system that pulls you back up when life pushes you down.

You may have myriad choices, but it doesn’t mean you have to juggle between them all. You can behave as if you have just a few. Choose your actions and relations carefully, and make it tough to give up on them.

The upside? You won’t just feel better about yourself; life will also become a journey worth enjoying. Isn’t that what you want?


1 Think about it. When did you last feel happiest? When you were watching Netflix and scrolling social media? Or when you were intently focused on a task you’re passionate about?

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