Why people prefer taking the easy solution rather than the hard solution

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Kevin Mangelschots

People often take the easy answer instead of the hard solution.

But why exactly is it that we try to make things as easy as possible for ourselves? Is it because we are simply lazy? Or is there more to it than meets the eye?

Let’s find out why we prefer taking the easy route rather than the hard road.

Wy do people choose the easy way over the hard way?

Image of a piece of paper reading, “the easy way is hard enough”, sticking against a hard piece of wood.

  • To waste as little energy as possible

    Historically, it was an evolutionary advantage to waste as little energy as possible when food was scarce. Thus, energy was a valuable resource.

    This still holds true today, even though outside threats like the possibility of getting killed by animals or other people have been greatly diminished.

    But you can’t simply throw away millions of years of evolution and genes. This means that our genes are still very much adjusted to more ancient times. Thus, we still try to waste as little energy as possible in order to have reserves for when it really matters in a potential life or death situation.

  • The easy route is easier

    Another reason why people choose the easy way over the hard way is because the easy route is, well, easier! If we use our common sense, then why would we make it hard on ourselves if we can take an easier route that might be just as viable?

    Not to mention, if the easy way out is just as good as the harder way in both the short and long run, then I’m taking the easy route as well. And yes, I’m known to be lazy at times.

  • It makes more sense to do things the easy way rather than the hard way

     

    Picture of a name tag with the words “common sense is not so common” written on it.

    Like briefly mentioned in our previous point, it doesn’t make much sense to make things harder on yourself than they need to be.

    As a result, a lot of us will try to do things the easy or easier way. And quite frankly, I can’t fault them. The only thing to watch out for is that the easy solution is viable in the long term as well.

  • Taking the easy way can be a sign of intelligence

    It takes some analytic ability to figure out what the easiest way is to do something, as well as to know/predict if it is a viable long term solution.

    As such, being able to realize what the easier way to do things is might be a possible sign of intelligence. Sometimes working smart can outdo working hard. But even better is doing both.

  • Short term solution

     

    Short term and Long term goals on opened notebook with glowing light bulb

    Some people think short term rather than long term. Some people like to live in the present and will not worry too much about future implications.

    When one thinks this way, taking the easier, often shorter term solution can become an attractive resolution to the problem.

    Be mindful though that the hard solution might be better over a longer period of time. That’s why you shouldn’t sacrifice your long term happiness for immediate gratification.

  • It feels good

    We typically take the easy way over the hard one because this tends to feel better.

    Even the most rational person is still heavily subjected to emotions. Thus, we tend not to notice how much our emotions influence our decisions.

    And while feeling good might not seem like a good determiner of the quality of the solution, a lot of what we do is because it feels good rather than actually being good for us. Think of drinking alcohol, smoking, overeating while stressed, eating unhealthy food etc.

    That’s why the easy route is regularly such an attractive alternative.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Is it always good to choose the easy way over the hard way?

A person holding a question mark in front of their face.

No, it is not always good or even desirable to take the easy way rather than the hard way.

The hard route can be beneficial in multiple different ways. It can be a better solution, especially in the long run. It can teach you valuable new skills such as perseverance and hard work, it challenges you which will improve you as a person and so on.

There’s a time and place for everything. And sometimes the easy route is just as good as the harder solution. But in some cases, the harder way is just superior to the easier one. Doing some things you don’t necessarily want to do from time to time teaches you valuable skills as well.

Why should we choose the hard way over the easy way sometimes?

Illustration of two road signs reading, “hard work”, and “easy street”.

  • Sometimes the hard way is better

    Often, though not always, the harder solution is better than the easier one. Especially in the long run.

    Since we like to use and waste as little energy as possible, the easier way is an attractive solution. But sometimes, we need to take the harder way in order to solve things permanently.

  • Sometimes, the hard way yields more long-term benefits

    The hard route can be more viable in the future than the easier way.

    When choosing a solution, it’s important to think about the consequences in the near and distant future. A solution is not ideal if it solves something in the immediate present, but is not going to last down the road.

  • You learn more from the hard way

    Image of the quote, “some of life's best lessons are learned at the worst times.”

    Skills like perseverance and hard work can only be taught during tough times when one has to work hard, ideally for prolonged periods of time.

    This means that there is frequently more to be learned from doing things the hard way rather than the easy way.

  • It is challenging

    People need personal goals in life in order to feel physically and mentally healthy. And in order to get better and improve, things need to be challenging, though not too hard so that one breaks under the immense tension.

    Challenging ourselves teaches us new skills, allows us to understand ourselves better, and teaches us how we behave under stress. Furthermore, it allows us to develop into a better version of ourselves. Like a phoenix that rises from the ashes.

  • It teaches you to think outside the box

    Illustration of a yellow colored stick man stepping out of the group.

    Harder solutions might require more brainpower due to being more complicated to implement.

    This might compel individuals to think outside the box, outside the ordinary, in order to successfully implement said solution.

  • The hard way might be a better long-term solution

    The hard way might be more challenging and require more work, but it also might be a better long-term solution.

    One should always be careful with sacrificing the future for the present. Small sacrifices in the present might have a huge beneficial impact in the future.

  • Taking the hard way can be a sign of intelligence

    “Being able to look further down the rabbit hole.” might be a possible sign of intelligence.

    Thus, it could be that someone is intelligent enough to think about and accurately “predict” the consequences in the coming weeks, months, and even years.

    They might see that the easy solution will not last for long and, thus, is only a temporary band-aid.

Conclusion

Image of a hand holding a card with the word “conclusions” written in blue.

There are times when the easy solution might be the best, or just as good as the harder one. If this situation arises, I would take the easier road as well, for convenience and because I don’t like to waste unnecessary energy.

However, sometimes the harder way is effectively the better solution. Especially over a longer period of time.

In those cases, I recommend taking the harder road in order to execute a solution that’s not only good in the present, but is also future-proof as well.

Always remember that harder answers have the additional benefits of learning new, important life skills such as perseverance, hard work and thinking outside the box.