Better vs Easier

I’ve started writing this post twice already. Third time’s a charm…

While I was reading The Marriage Plot, I stumbled across this quote,

My life getting better, but it ain’t getting any easier.

And it sent something through me, something warm and soothing. I’ve since read it over a billion times. What drives me batty is what an obvious statement of fact it is. Better is rarely easier. That’s so obvious.

Except it’s not. Not to me at least. I guess in some situations it makes sense to me, especially with something like food. Better food is seldom easier. It is not the same to make a cake from scratch as it is from the box. Even if you really enjoy that sort of thing, even if you do it so often it doesn’t feel harder to you at all, objectively it is.

I guess what I have found interesting is that I never really explored that concept further. In life things, my mind equates better with easier. A better job makes life easier. A better salary makes bill paying easier. A better parenting style makes raising children easier. Better self-esteem makes finding the man of your dreams easier. A better crocheter has an easier time with projects.

Are we on the same wavelength yet? Do you see what I’m alluding to?

Here are some things in my life that are Better but certainly not getting Easier.

Finances

It doesn’t feel this way, but when I step back and look at things objectively (concrete numbers make that easier) it’s obvious I am in a better financial state than I have been in my life. Not one of my six credit lines is maxed out and four of the six have zero balances and have had so for ages. I have retirement savings with five digits. I’ve never in my life saved so much money. When I subtract the amount of my debts (student and credit) from my savings, I have a net worth of over $20k which is something that was impossible to wrap my head around just five years ago. I swear there was a time in my life I believed net worth was for old people. At least the green ones (net worth, not people).

My finances aren’t any easier though. Not by a long shot. I recently drained the last of my savings to fund the last couple of weeks of summer camp because I couldn’t arrange care for the kids that wasn’t imposing on a bunch of people. The last time I got a normal, timely, child support payment was in April. The last time I got a child support payment at all was in June. And of course I have not been compensated for any of the cost of summer camp. I haven’t requested a dime from my parents but right now, things are finally approaching the perilous point. You know, the one where you’re counting the days left to your paycheck and taking inventory of your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry while anxiously glancing at the fuel needle. I’m surviving on a very tiny overdraft line of credit ING gives me for my checking account. The credit cards with empty balances are calling me a little louder every day.

Yeah, that point. That totally not easier point.

Love

I’m in a stronger, healthier relationship now. We have similar values and on similar life paths. We’ve had similar challenges in the past. It feels more like a team than anything I’ve been in before. He may not be my husband, but he treats me the way I always imagined my husband would treat me. But it’s not Easier. This Summer with his daughter here, I family went up to a size six. And managing the change in dynamics the presence of his daughter brought was challenging at times. Don’t get me wrong, the girl is great– she’s sweet and helpful but she craves her Dad’s attention (understandably) and I had to adjust to that without disappearing into the background at the same time.

And no matter how much we have in common, managing a family is still hard work. We’re still figuring out how to distribute work to each other and to the kids while making sure to communicate gratitude constantly.

Future Outlook

When I take the fact I’m back in school and combine it with the fact I was able to keep my job, I know I’m in a Better place than I was even two years ago as to propel myself forward to achieving more of my goals. It is certainly not Easier nor does it look likely to become so even though so many people feel compelled to promise me it will. No, school does not get Easier. And work does not get Easier. As I master something, I move on to the next thing instead of stagnating. There is always another step to take, another achievement to unlock.

Of course, I do believe there is a moment when Better and Easier do merge into one. I think that is the ultimate Achievement Unlocked and is represented by that peak on the happiness chart researchers keep finding.

What about you? Are things in your life better AND easier? Better but not easier? Easier but not better? Or neither better nor easier?

P.S. I’m still sick and dealing with this crap sinus infection. So I apologize if I got rambly in places. My powers of editing are vastly diminished in this state.

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22 thoughts on “Better vs Easier

  1. I really had to think about this. I am much happier than I’ve been in a very long time. As for the better vs. easier, my perspective has changed as I get older and I’m able to find peace and contentment with much less than before. That makes things better. I have learned to accept my limitations and to stop trying to control everything. That makes things easier. I still face challenges – health, finances what have you. The difference for me is in how I manage them (with faith, patience and acceptance) instead of being consumed by them and letting them define me. I’ve also learned to appreciate and delight in the small things that happen everyday. Because I want to be happy today, not “someday when…” And now I’m going to crochet and watch the opening ceremony with my hubby (and what could be better than that?!)

    Reply
  2. I’d say my life is better and easier, ESPECIALLY if I compare it to 2 years ago. That’s not to say that life is easy; I still have my ups, downs and other challenges to deal with. I think you’ve hit on a great wavelength 🙂

    As for the sinus infection, have you tried a neti pot? I’ve managed to eradicate a couple doozy sinus infections without antibiotics using mine. Best ~$20 I’ve ever spent.

    Reply
    • I think better AND easier is wonderful. Good for you for getting there and also realizing life still remains not easy.
      I have the Sinus Rinse instead of the pot and I’ve done it a couple of times. The last time I did it, some of the water got in my ears and for a whole day I was going around with that lovely feeling. I caved in and started antibiotics.

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  5. Light-years better, but not easier. Being in school was, for me, a constant forced march. Even though I didn’t have small children any longer, I had several part-time jobs and my chronically ill adult daughter lived in the same building. I never knew when she (or one of the tenants from the building I managed) would call or knock with a need/issue that meant putting down schoolwork or my writing-for-pay job.
    At times I longed for an ordinary square job at a store or restaurant vs. one that was so public (MSN Money) or so unpredictable (apartment management). A regular job wouldn’t have been so relentless in its demands: I could simply work four or five hours and then go home. It wouldn’t call me at 2 a.m. because it was locked out, or pound on my door on a Sunday afternoon to shout, “There’s water coming into my apartment from the place upstairs!”
    Almost three years ago I finished my degree, got more writing work and quit my apartment management gig, which has allowed me to travel more (sometimes in conjunction with a house-sitting position, so I’m not breaking the bank). I love having a portable job but the trade-off has been a fair amount of stress as I try to fit all the work in from wherever I am.
    Recently I decided not to keep quarreling with that particular blessing. I am retraining myself to say, “That was my CHOICE. It didn’t just ‘happen’ to me. I *chose* to take this additional freelance piece/house-sitting job/trip to see dad. Thus I need to choose smarter work habits to allow me to do everything I want to do, or I need to learn to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’.”
    That works, most of the time. It reminds me that life is a series of choices and that, sometimes, the only person putting stress on me IS me — which I can choose to stop doing. Working on that.
    I second the neti pot. I find it uncomfortable (not at all “soothing,” as the box promised) but very effective.

    Reply
    • I thought about you a lot while I wrote this. Yes, choices are key. We do make so many choices that directly affect our well-being. And you’re right, it’s important to keep that in mind. “Recently I decided not to keep quarreling with that particular blessing.” I love that. That’s a great one. I need to keep that in mind and not quarrel with many blessings.
      I did the Sinus Rinse. It does clear out a bunch of crapola. And so not soothing.

      Reply
      • I recently wrote a post called “Quarreling with blessings.” That’s what it feels like sometimes: That I’m whining about having so many good things happening to me. Friends keep pointing out that yeah, I’ve got a lot of opportunities but, um, yeah, you have to DO those things.
        See, I can’t do a half-assed job because my *name* is on this stuff. I can’t hide behind a pseudonym and churn out crappy “content.”
        And yes, I’m absolutely aware of my many blessings. They just tend to come in huge bunches, dammit, and must be dealt with all at once — and again, not in a half-assed way.

  6. Things are neither easier or better for me healthwise, moneywise, or relationshipwise. Several orthopedic surgeries will help the health problems.Then, I can work on the money aspect. Surely, the relationship problem (none) will sort itself out once I am sort of the old me again. Still, I stay optimistic.

    Reply
  7. Nice post. It reminds of the Greg Lemond quote he made in relation to training and racing at the highest echelons of European professional bicycling: “It doesn’t get any easier; you just go faster.”

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  8. It’s a really good point to remember because you’re right, it’s too easy to assume that easier is better, and there is really nothing that should make us believe that it should be so – unless you just fudge your definitions (and fudge does make things better :-)).

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  9. I think maybe sometimes easier means worse, too. (Many technological products come to mind here…)

    My life is definitely better than ever, but it’s also the hardest it’s ever been. But that allows for insane amounts of personal growth. And that is the best thing I could ask for.

    Reply
  10. Ah Maturity! It takes a mature outlook to understand that quote. And it takes a mature outlook to realize that even “better” doesn’t always feel BETTER! BTW, while it’s not “Middlesex,” I thought “The Marriage Plot” was pretty good. If it had been by any other author, I think it would have gotten better reviews.

    Reply

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