The Long Term Effects of the Easy Way

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We’ve all heard the phrase work smarter not harder, but as I look at my normal day I realize that the easy way has serious long-term effects that measure way beyond the moment of implementation.

I can say is this with great confidence as I drive in morning traffic. I was in the right-hand lane when I saw the sign indicating a merge to the left.  The right-hand lane was moving when the other two were not so I continued in the right-hand lane for as long as possible, passing up cars that were standing still, frustrated in a Tuesday morning rainy commute.

I took the easy way but one that could have caused an accident. One that could have created frustration for another driver, one that could have alluded to some physical gestures of irritation with my driving techniques.  The long-term effects of taking the easy way out could have been detrimental, yet I pursued.

The long-term effects of an easy diet measure in much the same way. It is fairly easy to want to finish the last couple spoonfuls of macaroni and cheese from my son’s bowl or the final chips left in the bottom of the bag.

It’s quite easy, actually, to grab a couple cookies when you’re hungry but the long-term effects will render forever on my thighs. To work smarter and not take the easy way in eating takes effort. It takes time, energy and preparation and yet the long-term effects of that smart work pays off, especially when I step on the scale.

The long-term effects of easy communication can be thought of in the same way. When we choose the easy way and say “what feels right in the moment”, can create long-term effects in our relationships. When it comes to our children the easy way out is often to yell and scream and express our frustrations without taking  an adult time out and think things through.

I have found that actually using the quietest voice possible to express my frustrations is much more effective.  Yet this requires effort, mindfulness and intentionality.  My mind and my voice go into autopilot with high pitched rants.  I have learned that my children are unable of hearing anything at this decibel, therefore my efforts are fruitless and the long term effects for me are a sore throat, bratty children and continued irritations.

Similarly, the long-term effects of “easy” communication can be detrimental for someone with dementia and ourselves as caregivers. If we take the easy route out and try to correct every phrase and comments that they make, drag them kicking and screaming, into our reality, the long-term effects will harm their trust in you, their desire to connect with you and increase irritability, in both you and them.

When we use the proper techniques by entering into their reality we have to work smarter not harder. We have to speak with intentionality, which is not always easy.  Being aware of our own agendas that we bring into a conversation can be hard.  It takes time, mindfulness and the ability to connect with own emotions. Those with dementia are suffering, often unable to verbally communicate how they are feeling. We need to enter into their reality, physically and emotionally. This is not always easy but it is the best way to communicate and the most effective way to create connection.

The long-term effects of the “easy way” will require so much more intervention in the end, the result can lead to frustration, our inability to get our job done effectively, and a loved one left with feelings of “disapproval”. Our workload will become harder simply because we did not work smarter.

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