Things aren’t hard or easy — they just *are*

I’ve been studying guitar for two years now (classical for 1.75 years) and Mandarin Chinese for about seven months, and one bad habit I’m fighting is thinking that I’m trying to learn something “hard.” My guitar teacher specifically called me out on this and suggested that if I believe something will be difficult ahead of time, it will be. He has a point.

It’s natural to want to label something as “hard” or “easy,” but the deeper I get into my studies, the more irrelevant the question is. Hard for whom? Easy for whom? And does it even matter?

Labelling something as “hard” or “easy” gets in the way of actually doing the work in front of us. If we approach a task thinking ahead of time that it will be hard, procrastination sets in because we generally don’t enjoy doing hard things. On the other hand, if we expect something to be easy, we’ll get discouraged the moment it gets challenging. In both cases, we’re not focusing on the work on front of us as it is. Instead, we’re attaching expectations to it and measuring our experience to those expectations.

It’s a great way to waste a lot of energy.

It’s taken a while, but I’ve learned to let go of expectations and simply focus on practicing. It forces me to stay in the present with an open heart and enjoy each moment as it happens. Both my guitar practice and my language practice are a lot more enjoyable these days. I’m making progress too, and since I don’t have any specific time-based goals, any improvement makes me happy.

I want to bring this attitude into my writing practice as well, but it’s been more difficult because I have more mental baggage attached to writing. At least now I have better tools and more experience on how to deal with it.