The illusion of hardship

“Pareto’s Law can be summarized as follows: 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs.” – Timothy Ferriss

The fourth of life’s great illusions states that life is hard. The truth is, you just make it that way. There are no problems, only challenges with solutions. Begin to understand the 20% of your efforts that produce 80% of the positive results and your life begins to take on a wonderful flow.

“Josh has lost the plot.” That’s what I imagined friends would think when I first starting expressing what many people might consider – “spiritual” posts. In the beginning I second-guessed myself before posting something I felt compelled to write. Initiating tension in my body. Until one day I just said screw it!. When I feel it, I’ll do it. I don’t care if I get ridiculed or made fun of. So, it began. And you know what? The sky didn’t fall. My friends didn’t make fun of me. The world continues on it’s path. What’s better, you’re reading this. There may be some of people who will think I’ve drank the spiritual Kool-aid. Or, maybe not. It doesn’t really matter anymore. As Chicken Soup for the Soul author Jack Canfield likes to point out “What others think about you is none of your business.”

Our world’s greatest teachers were at their core, a band of misfits doing the extraordinary – following their hearts. Heroic stories epitomized in the personalities of people like Jesus and Buddha give us glimpses of a growth destined for us all. These ultimate outliers, wayfarers of the first order, blazed a path of light for us to follow whenever we wish. Jesus was kicked out of his home town. Buddha ran away from his. Fitting in wasn’t their strong point. Revealing their most fundamental quality. They focused on what mattered – themselves. A depth of being allowing their lives to become iconic and consciously everlasting.

Interested in seeing through the illusion of hardship?

Be like Jesus and Buddha – Stop being concerned what others think of you. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is beginning to cultivate the habit of not caring what other people think of you. Stop assuming people are saying “this or that” about you. Most likely you’re probably wrong anyway. And even if you’re not, all that truly matters is what you think of yourself. Be nice, help others when you can and follow your heart. Stop wasting your precious energy trying to figure someone else out. Let the mind gossip fall away.

Get a little crazy. Remember, all the magic happens outside your comfort zone. Start making the uncomfortable, comfortable by doing one thing that scares you today. Look people in the eyes and talk to strangers. Tell everyone you know that you love them. Reprogram yourself. Forget who they told you you should be. Stop caring what people think of you. Like Dr Suess says “Those that matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter.” Grow a beard, wear different clothes, walk a new way to work, whatever works, do it and do it often.

Begin to understand the 20% of your life that is producing the 80% of positivity in your life. This entails a life audit. My mother always said “You need to know what you’re not good at.” And that’s precisely what we’re going to concentrate on today. Let’s start by making a NOT TO DO LIST. What things are you doing that make you feel exhausted and don’t seem to have any real value to anyone. What could you cut out today? Begin that list now. 

Give yourself the no-defense challenge. The final stage of releasing yourself from the imaginary chains of hardship involves practising the art of NO-defense. When people lash out, it’s usually because they’ve been lashed. And, everyone truly is doing the best they can with the information they have. I realize being compassionate to someone who is insulting you is not an easy task. Katie Byron says, “Defense is the first act of war.” And if you can truly listen to your critics, you may even be able to find a little truth them. But mostly, it’s the reality of the person who says it to you. Not yours. A lack of defence requires a very strong connection with your source when you feel anger bumbling. Staying calm and not reacting when someone is directing their anger will require practice.

Whenever anyone actively attacks me I try to remember Lao Tzu’s words, “Do you have the patience to wait till the mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving til the right action arises by itself?” You and this world don’t evolve with fighting; this happens with ideas and dreams. Wars end with the highest ideals of freedom and com- passion. Next time you get mad, give yourself a timeout. Walk away from the situation. Do something completely different. Catch your breath. Do not react for at least an hour. You’ll find that when you come back, the environment may have changed and you can discuss solutions, not problems. Or not. Either way, you will not have allowed another to have power over your actions. Remember Bernard Shaw’s quote, “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

To see through the illusion of hardship:

  • Be like Jesus or Buddha
  • Get a little crazy
  • Become intimate with the 20% of your life is creating 80% of your success and happi- ness. Then do more of that.
  • Give yourself the NO-defence challenge

With love,


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