Why is my life so hard? Well… it’s actually not.

I’ve set myself some big goals this year, the biggest of which is completing and being competitive in the Crocodile Trophy mountain bike race in September.  More on exactly what that is in a later post.  I need to be positive and focussed throughout the year and I’ve put quite a bit of thought into how I’ll do that. This little bit of writing is a start.

I confess to being a big Freakenomics podcast fan.  I’ve listened to every single episode but this is the first time I’ve gone back and re-listened to an episode twice within a week of it’s release.  On each listen I’ve picked up something new which I can apply in my life.

Here’s a link, it’s called ‘Why is my life so hard?’  It really is worth a listen.  Apart from my desire to share it with you, I also need to give appropriate credit to Freakenomics because this has formed the basis of my little piece… not that these issues have not been on my mind for quite some time.

Here’s the basic premise – Headwinds/tailwinds asymmetry; where barriers and hindrances command attention because they have to be overcome, benefits and resources are often simply enjoyed and largely ignored.

A simple and relevant analogy is riding with or against the wind. Whilst riding against the wind I am constantly aware of it and wishing it was not such a barrier to me.  When the wind is at my back I feel the relief for about 30 seconds then power on and enjoy the benefits without another thought.

I notice the barriers and blissfully ignore the benefits.

When I raced in the Emergency Services Games mountain bike race a few weeks ago, I made a wrong turn on the first lap which caused me to complete a needless climb and half a kilometre of trail which was not part of the course.  When I’d finally realised and re-set myself, I was behind a heap of riders I’d earlier used much energy to pass.  I then began to let that get the better of me.  I was cursing and cussing, blaming the guy in front of me who had led me up the wrong track.  I was lamenting my lap time, seeing myself losing position and ultimately losing my overall place in the race.  What I wasn’t doing was thinking about the fast, light, high performance mountain bike I was on which could assist to drag back my time and position.  I wasn’t thinking about the training and work I had put in to getting fit enough to achieve a winning position; training and work that was designed to overcome such challenges.  And I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I was still riding at the relative pointy end of the race and just had to remain positive and consistent in order to come back to a position where the mistake I had made would make very little difference in the end.

It took me an hour or so to re-focus my thinking into a positive frame of mind – that was an hour wasted. An hour of complaining to myself and encouraging a negative frame of mind when I could have been thinking things that would have made it a lot easier for me.  Silly.

Headwinds/tailwinds asymmetry; there are so many applications of this in our lives and so many ways where we should turn it into a positive rather than a negative – many more important than it’s application to cycling but hey… that’s where I’m at right now.  The kids, their homework, doing the dishes, pulling the weeds out; so many ways in which focussing on the benefits and not the barriers can make life so much better for us!

For now – for me – it’s cycling and the Croc.  It will be getting through every barrier… sorry, gaining from every benefit leading up to that which will help me achieve my goals.

And staying on the bike of course.

(My ongoing milestones and results throughout this year will be maintained and published on this page in order that I can keep track of what I’m achieving).


5 thoughts on “Why is my life so hard? Well… it’s actually not.

  1. Hi Rich,
    Your article runs well beside Acceptance commitment therapy that I use every day to manage my mental health.

    Presence, Purpose and Privilege, or in the case of privilege, I like to replace it with the word gratitude.

    In the case of the Emergency Service Games it would apply like this:

    Presence- Connecting with where you are and using your senses. Noticing the beauty around you, the smell of the bush, the air flowing over your body, the burn in your muscles as you push yourself, and your breath as the air flows down into your lungs and is expelled warmer with a mist as it hits the outside air.

    Purpose- As you focus on what you need to do, digging deep to make up the lost ground, harnessing your values of doing your best, never giving up, accepting the mistaken route, making space for it, whilst not letting it affect your drive and and tenacity.

    Privilege/Gratitude- Acknowledging the super light performance of the bike you are lucky to have, the fact that you have the time, and finances to be out in the environment pursuing your passion. The family that support you and the job give you the space to excel.

    All great stuff and the more we practice it and make it part of us, the closer we are to living a rich and fulfilling life based on our values.

    Thanks for your post xxoo


  2. Try also thinking through things without the slant of positive OR negative. There just is what you have in front of you. If you think of a headwind as bad then it is bad. If you just think of it as a headwind then that is all it is.
    I once listened to an interview with a motorbike racer. He was asked “what is your favourite race circuit.?” His answer was simple. “I don’t have a favourite race track because if I did then I would have ones that I really don’t like. And then I will struggle more on those because of my negative thoughts about them.”

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