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Embrace the Hard: The Secret to a Fulfilling Life

Embracing difficulty can transform your life! Surprisingly, studies suggest people who consistently choose the hard path over the easy one are more likely to lead fulfilling, successful lives. Discover how to embrace the hard.

Phil McKinney
Phil McKinney
3 min read
Image of man rolling rock up the hill signifying hard work
Embrace the Hard For a Fulfilling Life

We all want an easy life. We want to coast by without obstacles, challenges, or pain. However, the truth is that easy does not equal happiness or success. It is not natural to avoid the hard. Whether it is a tough workout, a daunting work project, or facing personal demons, hard brings opportunities to grow and learn. It promises to prepare us for the future that we want and to allow us to reach our potential.

What are the benefits of embracing the hard?

Hard Teaches Resilience

First, we should embrace the hard because it teaches us resilience. Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties, and it is the foundation of a successful life. We build mental strength, determination, and adaptability by facing the hard and persevering through it. We learn to cultivate a positive mindset and to believe in ourselves, even when challenges arise. Without resilience, it is easy to fall into despair, give up on our dreams, and settle for less than we deserve.

Hard Helps Solve Hard Problems

The second reason we should embrace the hard is that it helps us solve big problems. Big problems require big solutions, and big solutions require hard work. When we tackle complex challenges, we engage our creativity, analytical skills, and collaboration. We develop new perspectives and insights and discover innovative ways to overcome obstacles. We become problem solvers, leaders, and change-makers by embracing the hard. We also create a sense of purpose and impact that can be incredibly rewarding.

Hard Gives A Sense of Accomplishment

The third reason why we should embrace hard is that it gives us a sense of accomplishment. Accomplishment is the feeling of pride and satisfaction that comes from achieving something meaningful. When we avoid the hard, we deprive ourselves of this feeling. We miss out on the opportunity to set a goal, work towards it, and achieve it. Easy may feel good at the moment but does not bring lasting fulfillment. Only hard work can give us the sense of pride and confidence that we need to live our best lives.

Hard Helps us Learn

The fourth reason we should embrace hard is that it helps us learn. Learning is the process of acquiring new knowledge and skills, and it is a lifelong pursuit. When we embrace the hard, we expose ourselves to new experiences and challenges that teach us valuable lessons. We learn about ourselves, about our strengths and weaknesses, and about what we are capable of. We also learn from others, their perspectives, and their feedback. Through learning, we evolve and grow and become better versions of ourselves.

Hard Leads to Personal Transformation

The final reason why we should embrace the hard is that it leads to personal transformation. Personal transformation is the process of becoming the person that we want to be. It involves breaking free from old patterns, habits, and limiting beliefs and embracing new ones. When we choose to embrace the hard, we challenge ourselves to step out of our comfort zones, take risks, and confront our fears. We learn to trust ourselves and our intuition and to follow our passions and purpose. We become authentic and empowered, and we create a truly fulfilling life.

"Despite the illusion of ease, it is the unseen strength summoned in the face of adversity that shapes the world's most awe-inspiring achievements."

Choosing between the Easy and the Hard

Deciding between the easy and hard path is often a struggle. The easy path offers comfort, familiarity, and the absence of immediate discomfort. However, the hard path, while fraught with challenges and uncertainty, offers the prospect of growth, accomplishment, and true satisfaction. The choice can be simplified by asking ourselves some probing questions.

Before making a decision, reflect on each path's potential long-term benefits and drawbacks. Will the easy choice lead to complacency, stagnation, and ultimately dissatisfaction? Conversely, could the hard path result in growth, learning, and a sense of true achievement?

Next, consider your personal values and life goals. If you aspire to lead, innovate, or make a significant impact, the hard path aligns more with these ambitions. The easy path rarely leads to outstanding achievements or personal transformation.

Also, listen to your intuition. Deep inside, you often know which choice will lead to personal fulfillment. While the hard path may be intimidating, if it feels right, it probably is.

Finally, remember that embracing the hard is often the choice to embrace life in its most complete sense. It's the choice to grow, learn, and experience the satisfaction of overcoming challenges. So when faced with the choice between the easy and the hard, consider not just the immediate comfort but the long-term gain.


In conclusion, embracing the hard is not easy but worth it. By avoiding the hard, we give up on our potential and miss out on the opportunities that it brings. Hard teaches us resilience, helps us to solve big problems, gives us a sense of accomplishment, helps us to learn, and leads to personal transformation. So, the next time you face a challenge, instead of backing down, embrace the hard and see where it takes you.

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Phil McKinney Twitter

Phil McKinney is an innovator, podcaster, author, and speaker. He is the retired CTO of HP. Phil's book, Beyond The Obvious, shares his expertise and lessons learned on innovation and creativity.


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