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The Convenience Virus

The Convenience Virus

Are you running urgently from task to task and place to place with a desire to do life faster and easier? Perhaps you’ve caught the convenience virus.

The convenience virus can get under your skin. Like a rash you can’t soothe, it will spread throughout your life if you don’t rein it in.

Fast and easy is the measure of our time

Convenience ideology gained popularity when advertisers and product designers of the 1950s teamed up to create an insatiable desire for labour-saving “mod-cons,” such as kitchen appliances. It surged again in the 90s, capturing our imaginations with rapid progress in electronics, computing, consuming, and communicating. It just keeps on growing and going.

Convenience ideology propels the evolution of design and changes how we live, survive, prosper, fit in and interact.

We all want convenient ways to perform menial tasks, but a lack of discernment around our desire for convenience is a real danger. If we allow our desire for fast and easy to bleed into every aspect of our lives, including our health and wellbeing, creativity, and spirituality, we drain our life force. We lose patience with the most important parts of ourselves.

The growing aversion to experience, learning and creating

From grade schools to universities, teachers are increasingly complaining about their students’ desire to escape the learning process entirely. Thinking is too laborious and slow for many students. They have an urgent need to know, without a willingness to fully experience and explore their subjects.

I recently read an astounding interview with a University philosophy professor who said his students did not want to study. That’s right; his philosophy students reported that they didn’t have time to read books on philosophy. These students had become so used to consuming short bursts of information that they pressured him to cull his reading list down to just a few “essential” books.

The professor reluctantly gave the students his shortlist, which cut his original list by half. A week later, they began to ask exactly which passages they should read. The students said they didn’t have time to read the entire shortlist, or, as it turned out, even a single book.

This story reflects many of our current attitudes:

  • Why should I practice when I can get qualified, anyway?
  • Why get experience when I can have success without it?
  • Why seek knowledge when information is available on the topic? (What is knowledge? Isn’t it just information that you hold in your head? Why bother when I’ve got Google?)
  • Why develop new skills when I learned them at school?
  • Why create something when I can buy it?
  • Why get my hands dirty and sweaty, fumble, and make mistakes?

Here’s why.

One key ingredient goes missing when you live by the rule of convenience, and that missing ingredient is you. You disappear from your own life. You vanish from your work. Your creativity goes underground. Your spirit languishes, wondering where you’ve gone, yearning for your return.

Insisting on convenience for everything in your life makes you fragmented, fatigued, frustrated, entitled, impatient and angry.

The essence of convenient living is efficiency. The destination is sameness.

We gain knowledge through a combination of learning, experience and contemplation over time. We invest our unique selves into the field, thereby making it our own.

Knowledge gives our lives meaning, and ultimately, it’s meaning we want, not convenience.

An antidote to the convenience virus

Ask yourself…

  • Which areas of my life are calling me to give more time, patience, faith, effort, and focus?
  • What do I want to experience, learn and create?

If you’re really hooked on convenience, it may be difficult for you to consider any long-term endeavour, at all. The desire to learn and create may have been damped-down by the urgency of doing life faster and easier. If this is the case, your mind may be too muddled to think clearly.

Begin by scheduling 10-30 minutes of daily do-nothing time, where your mind can drift, and you stay immersed in your sensuous, feeling self. Walk in nature, write spontaneous and even out-there ideas, sleep, and bring your mind back to your body with deep relaxation. These activities nourish the subconscious mind and intuition.

Ask a close friend to remind you of what lights you up; there lies a thread you can follow back into meaningful living.

You may also want to explore your deeper needs and motivations through meditations on your desires.

Most importantly, practice taking time out to rest, create and fully inhabit your own life.

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