Human beings are committed to making life as easy as possible. It’s a logical thing to strive for, but has come at a hefty price. The human body is designed to lift, bend, and twist, and thrives when in an environment requiring physical effort. And the hard work humans benefit from are not limited to physical work. The stimulation of our minds in problem solving, pushing through life’s tricky difficulties, and finding solutions to everyday dilemmas all comes with benefits. Hard work needs to be embraced, not avoided.
The food our ancestors ate was fibrous and course. I’ve read that our ancestors spent three to four hours chewing. Hearing that gives us relief to know that the food we eat today, which is more processed and softer, can be chewed and swallowed in much less time. What many people are unaware of is that there are benefits to chewing. Chewing increases bone density, releases stem cells, and improves our airways. Over long periods of time, this decrease in chewing has affected the size of our jaws, leading to dental problems.
I’m using chewing just to highlight the fact that making things easier on ourselves can come with adverse effects. Think of all the sleep problems (i.e., snoring, sleep apnea) and dental issues (i.e., crooked teeth, impacted wisdom teeth). These problems are newer, and research shows that our ancestors did not have these types of issues.
Imagine wanting to know the weather outside. Even our grandparents had to get up and walk outside to see what was happening. Then came a time they could listen to radio or watch the television to hear what the weather was like. This at least required them to get up and walk over to turn on the device. Eventually came the remote control, which allowed them to not even have to get up from their chair. The physical demands were lessened.
Compounding the decrease in required physical exertion was the fact that mental activity had also been diminished. By walking outside to check the weather, they had to process a host of stimulatory sensations. They smelled the air, felt the wind on their skin, looked around at the trees and the sky, and listened, all cues to determine not only the current weather, but impending weather.
When we are hit with challenges that require a physical response, our bodies get stronger and tougher. Our bodies are designed to use it or lose it. The current and escalating bone density issue is often blamed on a calcium deficiency. I agree that this is part of the problem, but inactivity is the primary issue. As we have become less active, putting our muscles, joints, and bone under less stress, our innate wisdom signals the body to produce less bone. Why? Because the body won’t expend energy on something it doesn’t need.
Think of how you feel after completing a task that required a good sweat and a lot of exertion. Sure, you felt exhausted, but you also felt great. At the end of doing hard work you get rewarded with feelings of relief, accomplishment, and pride.
I’m all for utilizing the right tools for every job. And I would sound silly saying we need to make life harder instead of easier. But the truth is, our efforts and success in making life easier is backfiring, leading to a whole host of adverse issues. We do very well with hard work. Our bodies thrive from hard work. Our self-esteem, confidence, and pride increase after hard work. While we complain a lot about hard work, there is a reason we say things like climbing the ladder of success instead of being handed success. You don’t get to the top of anything without some hard work. What’s the most difficult thing about hard work? It’s hard! But hard work is supposed to be just that… hard.