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December 5th, 2019

When does something become effortless?



How does this differ from the expectation that certain things should be effortless?



Unfortunately a glaring contradiction exists between these two questions.  There are some very important things in life that we take for granted, and we do so by assuming that they should occur effortlessly.  Loving relationships are perhaps the best example of this assumption.  Many assume by indication of behavior that the meaning of love somehow contains a magic that should make interactions effortless.  The idea that work needs to be done in these circumstances somehow seems to contradict the high-ideal of love.  Whether this be a romantic situation or one between family members.  The nebulous and fluid concept of love becomes the glue for every assumption that things should somehow be effortless.


But as for that first question: when does something become effortless?  The answer is far more straight forward and obvious:


Generally, something becomes effortless after putting a ton of effort into the practice. 


There’s an anecdote attributed to Picasso that comes to mind:


He was sitting at a café doodling on a napkin and as he got up to go he crumpled up the napkin and put it into his pocket.  A woman sitting near by who knew who he was asked him if she could have the napkin.  Picasso responded that she could, for $40,000.  To which she replies “but it only took you 30 seconds.”  To which he ends the scene by saying “madam, it took me forty years.”



The woman’s observation that it took him only 30 seconds is a tribute to the effortless ease with which an artist creates after so many years of practice. 


It’s true with just about everything, and we’ve come to attribute a 10,000 hour rule to the mastery of any given skill or practice.


Now why is it that we readily admit the need for effort in order for something to become effortless in some fields but not others?


Why do we expect relationships to be effortless while other things require the grind of years, even when they are things we really enjoy, as we can assume with Picasso and painting, or some great athlete and their sport, or a musician and their music?


Often our relationships get only the dregs of our energy – what’s left over after a long and tired day. 


Or is it perhaps that we’ve simply gotten into a habit of laziness based on an assumption that something should be effortless?


It’s incredible how much a few extra minutes of effort can yield.  Going on a long drive with a family member?  Research a neat spot that’s on the way and make a little adventure of it.


Discover an acquaintance has a love of painting and no good brushes?  Pick one up. 


A friend is in need and has no way to repay?  Give for the sake of practicing how to give. 


With enough practice, anything can become effortless.


To assume otherwise – to believe that something should be effortless because maybe it’s fun or starts off well is to breed a future wake up call, and it might come when it’s too late to put in the effort, because the opportunity will have already passed by.


Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 599: Effortless Problems

Tinkered Thinking

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