Start with what’s easy

Have you ever experienced that awful sensation of having a big task begging for your attention, yet it seems daunting and out of reach? It could be anything from that “junk drawer” bursting at the seams to perhaps a more pressing, urgent matter that, for some reason, keeps slipping to the bottom of your to-do list. Our thinking, logical brain knows that avoidance is a temporary fix and simply putting it off will only make it worse. And, yet, here we are. Again. We are complex creatures, us humans. Sigh.
One thing that has really helped me, and I credit the wise words of positive psychologist professor Barbara Fredrickson, is to “Start with what’s easy.” I read this in her 2009 text Positivity, specifically, in her chapter about meditation.

A very popular and powerful meditation is Lovingkindness meditation (my favourite). The traditional teachings have you start with extending lovingkindness, first to yourself, then towards someone you care about, then towards someone neutral, then towards someone you may classify as “difficult” or that you have unresolved issues with, and, finally, to all beings.

The traditional approach uses the logic that you can’t give what you don’t have. On this particular meditation, Fredrickson acknowledges that starting with yourself may in fact be extremely difficult. It may be easier to extend lovingkindness to someone else before extending it to yourself. This really speaks to me. I find it much, much easier to start with extending lovingkindness to my family and friends rather than starting with myself. Does this make the practice less authentic? Not a chance; in fact, it may make the practice more accessible and rewarding, and help people enjoy the many (research-backed) benefits of a consistent meditation practice.

So, I find myself reflecting on this concept of starting with what’s easy when I’m feeling overwhelmed with a task and having difficulty taking the first step. When I take this approach, there’s a certain satisfaction with getting the process started, a feeling of reward when a task (even a small one) is completed, and renewed fuel to keep going.

Whether it’s a lifestyle addition or change, organizing paperwork (big gulp), starting a new habit, or letting go of an old one….start with what’s easy and see how things unfold.

We are here to support, encourage, uplift, and celebrate you every step of the way.

Warmest regards,