In recent years, there has been an alarming tendency to find adolescents and young adults seeking only the path of ease. In other words, when allowed to apply real effort to learn, grow, or improve…they choose to ‘sit it out.’ Certainly, a contributor to this is the role of immediate gratification, but we’ll cover that next week. For now, we are looking at the absence of sincere effort and impact on their future lives.

The rationale for laziness, from a teenager’s perspective, sounds like this:

  • “Oh, I don’t want to work that hard.”
  • “It’s not worth it. I just want to play my games.”
  • “Mom and Dad work too hard. I don’t want to be like them.”
  • “I do okay without really studying…so who cares!”
  • “I’ll work harder when I get older.”
  • “I will be a YouTube influencer; I don’t have to really work.”
  • “I don’t enjoy working. I just want to have fun.”

Seeking the Easy Way Out: The Formula for Misery

In many ways, we find that choices based on what requires the least effort are the inevitable formula for misery. However, we are not required, and this does not imply that we should take the most difficult path. And the idea here is not a miserable, gut-wrenching, teeth-gnashing effort. No, that doesn’t work.

Because as many of you know, most effort toward a desired goal (that you have intentionally chosen) can be quite enjoyable and satisfying.

But, first, we must get clear on why the easy path is so harmful, as we often allow our children to choose it. Under this approach, multiple weaknesses are encouraged and nurtured within your child, which ultimately builds misery.

  1. Difficult tasks are abandoned because they are too hard, so skill is underdeveloped.
  2. Sustained attention, which requires effort, is not established. And this is needed for success.
  3. Self-esteem is not developed. Doing one’s best builds esteem.
  4. A sense of emptiness comes from seeking a pleasurable way out.
  5. They do not see or comprehend the reality formula: Efforts bring rewards.
  6. And finally, an obsession with ease produces only weakness and no resilience in coping with life.

In essence, doing less than we can inevitably messes with the mind and weakens us.

“If you want your child to have a better life, do not confuse this with an easier life.”

The two are different, and many of us get confused on this issue. We want a better life for our children, so we create and build an easy life. We see this manifestation in children who feel deserving of anything they want…with virtually no effort. They expect new toys, phones, and clothes whenever they ask…with ZERO effort of their own. They expect to be taken to their friends’ houses, parties, and sleepovers with a five-minute notice…and we do it. All of this builds the expectation of an easy life where everything comes my way, with little (if any) contribution of my own.

Best Effort: One Key to Happiness

Learning to give life your best is one of the secrets to a full and happy life. Why? In the process of seeking to learn at your best, perform at your best, and contribute your best, we open the door to an important realization:

We GET the most from life when we GIVE life the best we have.

Applying our greatest resources, skills, and intellect to the task at hand creates the greatest satisfaction. By doing this our perspective is on the present, not the future or the past. This brings enormous contentment and a settled sense of internal ease and esteem. Yet, it is not a bragging point or an inflated esteem that arises from doing our best; the impact is internal and reflected in how we carry ourselves in the world.

Without this, we tend to chase pleasure and happiness through incessant activity and stimulation. We notice our children taking the easy path to find the quickest track to pleasure…rather than expending effort toward growth, learning, or contributing to something of value.

As I write this, I am aware that ‘best effort’ can be challenging and difficult for those adults and children with attention deficit issues (ADD) or anxiety. If these issues are a factor in your family, please consider how technology like neurofeedback can transform these conditions and put your loved one on a better trajectory for life.

As school ends and we enter summer, resist the urge to make things too easy for your kids or to make their school break focused exclusively on pleasure. Allow and support a balance of effort- and pleasure-based activity and insist that there is a contribution toward the family and community. Ignore the complaints they will initially have; you are teaching them a life lesson about learning to work a bit harder and give a bit more. Hold them accountable to real effort on tasks of real value. And for the remainder of the summer…do enjoy and have fun!

This article is one of many on parenting and brain-based technologies that you will find at