When Inconveniences Can Make Your Life More Whole
My mom had texted me, “Do you want me to pick up anything at the supermarket?”
We had no more bread at home, and I was thinking about going out and buying it myself. But if my mom picked it up for me, I wouldn’t have to leave the house today. It would be convenient.
I replied, “Thanks for checking in, but I don’t need anything!”
You see, my thumb had hovered over the ‘Send’ button for a brief moment — it would be so much easier if she had just picked something up at the grocery instead. I could just spend the rest of the day inside, I wouldn’t have to change out of my comfortable pajamas, and I would have more time online to work on my deadlined projects.
But a part of me knew that some inconveniences were better for me than not.
Why I make buying bread a hassle
The bakery is not necessarily a close walk, but I give myself that errand every week for it makes it routine to leave the house. I get walking, it clears my mind, and I end up feeling much more refreshed. I get to say hi to the bakery lady.
It seems silly to spend an hour every week to buy a loaf of bread, but I realized that it can be a healthy hassle that does more good for me than not.
Environment is a much stronger determinant of health than willpower
Walking for my bread is just one thing. My friends will roll their eyes, but there are many inconveniences in life that I have voluntarily decided to keep: I use cash for leisure expenses instead of contactless payment, so I’m more conscious of how I spend my money. I don’t use food delivery apps and limit myself to places that take phone calls for when I feel like takeout. I’ve put off upgrading my phone’s internet speed, so I feel less inclined to spend time on it.
It can seem silly to make life more inconvenient for yourself — for you could just choose to walk, or you could just choose to spend less screen time without making your life inconvenient — but if life in Japan has taught me anything, it is that environment is a much stronger determinant of health than willpower.
For healthy choices can feel hard. But when it’s ingrained in our environment and routine, it rarely ever is.
In a world driven by convenience, sometimes it’s better to go slow
An inconvenient life can be good for us. People naturally walk more when owning a car is more expensive and troublesome. When we cook our own food instead of take out, we tend to eat more vegetables. Eating in moderation becomes easy when people are served less. People are more social when they need to rely on their neighbors for help, and people get better sleep when their phone can only be plugged in 5 meters away from their bed.
I’m not saying all conveniences are bad, and we should rely on the help we need, but having some hassles in life can be good for us. For even if some inconveniences make life more difficult, sometimes they can also make life more whole.