Apply Yourself

Life would be boring if it were easy.



I am constantly amazed at all the ways that my problems are solved. I am often surprised at the way that most of the problems I encounter tend to solve themselves. I am usually aware that when I solve problems myself, that’s because I applied myself to the problem, without fear and without worry about making mistakes. I have often found that with repeated attempts, eventually, I will solve a vexing problem. And every problem that I have encountered has required at least some patience, some experience, and a willingness to avoid shortcuts to the solution. Persistence is a virtue.

The success of the human race is dependent on our ability to solve problems. Nature is constantly solving for the problem of survival. Nature only solves enough problems to reproduce and then it seems to stop. That’s because our genes exist for just one purpose: reproduction. That’s what genes do. Everything else around these genes, that’s a bonus.

The sight of a rainbow is a bonus we get for having the capacity to see colors. The sound of a string quartet is a bonus for the capacity to hear sound. The smell of wet soil after rain is a bonus for our capacity to smell. The sensation of a flower petal between our fingers is a gift from our sense of touch. The taste of a creme brulee is a bonus from the sensory perception of taste. All of these capacities were built for our survival, and they just happen to please us, too.

Our five senses solve for the problem of survival. The problems solved by our senses were solved without conscious effort on the part of our brains. Our brains are designed to solve the immediate problem of staying alive. Our brains sense when we’re in danger, when we’re hungry, and when we need to find a safe place to relieve ourselves. Our brains solve the problem of day-to-day living and getting our needs met.

We’re really good at creating problems for ourselves, too. Have a look around humanity and we see how we treat each other, how we punish each other, how we are treated, and how we treat ourselves. I’ve seen people commit some terrible mistakes and wonder how those people sleep at night. I see how we live with self-reproach, unable to sleep at night for some mistake we made today, yesterday, or last year. Often we create more problems trying to solve other problems. We can hardly see beyond the consequences of our own actions.