Levels of Difficulty

Last week we talked about decisions, decisions, decisions. This week we’re looking at potential difficulty levels of that process. Decision-making involves choosing between two or more possible options/solutions. We can make it easy, or hard—the choice is ours.

The Karavolades stairs on Santorini, Greece — 588 steps that lead from base-to-top on the cliff side.

The Karavolades stairs on Santorini, Greece — 588 steps that lead from base-to-top on the cliff side. (click on photo to enlarge)

On the island of Santorini, Greece you’ll find the old Karavolades stairs—588 steps that lead from base-to-top on the cliff side. To get from point A to point B there are three levels of difficulty to choose from:

  • The easy route is to take the tram.
  • The tolerable (odiferous) route is to ride a donkey.
  • The difficult (stinky and slippery) route is to walk.

Have you ever made things more difficult than necessary?

© lauriebuchanan.com

80 thoughts on “Levels of Difficulty

  1. It’s one of my specialties. Mind you, sometimes we might make things difficult as a test to ourselves. These days I’m trying not to reinvent the wheel so much.

  2. Hi Laurie,

    I usually start with the objective of making things as easy as possible in the long term, and sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way.

    I couldn’t live at Santorini. I can live with earthquakes, but active volcanoes like that one scare me too much.

    • Ted — The beach is covered with black volcanic rock/sand.

      In Turkey there was still visible evidence of their last volcanic eruption from the mid-50s. The archeological digs are busy uncovering cities that got covered during that earthquake.

  3. You brought back some memories, Laurie. In 1973 when I was 16 my grandparents came to visit my family in Greece. There was no tram at the steps back then! We rode donkeys down. My sister’s donkey kept trying to run ahead and my donkey was wearing a muzzle and kept trying to bite me. I was so upset by the time we reached the bottom that I quickly and firmly decided I was not riding a donkey back up! Lucky for me my dear grandfather said he would keep me company walking back up. And we had a nice slow walk and a nice long talk, just the two of us. 🙂

  4. Of course the answer Laurie is “yes” but generally I go for tolerable. However, my tolerable is sometimes considered difficult and at other times easy by others. I think the key is to know ones abilities and tolerances well and then stretch just a wee bit further than that! I can see myself all stinky and sweaty about three quarters of the way up the hill, taking a sip from my water bottle as I flop over for a short break on a step while thinking “maybe I should have taken the tram!?” But, with my eye on the end goal, up I would get up and with a plan for taking as many breaks as necessary, I would keep climbing — slowly, until the last five steps. Then I would run up those for a leaping in the air finish; face all white and red blotches from effort, knees shaking and full of jello and gasping for breath. Done! I will hardly be able to get out of bed in the morning because of sore muscles but, if asked, I would tell you it was worth it! And next time? I will take the tram.

  5. Every Sunday morning when I teach 2-year-olds, I can choose between two flights of steps getting to my classroom or use the elevator, just a few yards away. Either choice comes with benefits: Using the steps I get more cardio exercise. However, the elevator helps me conserve my energy for 10 – 12 little people. (Yes, I have helpers!)

    Your Grecian stair metaphor fits my dilemma perfectly. I’m thankful I have a choice as you did. Now I am wondering which option you chose. 🙂

    • Marian — Ten to twelve 2-year olds? My hat is off to YOU!

      We were wearing open-toe’d Keen sandal-type shoes and opted for the tram.

      I took the photo of the stairs from the tram. And then took the video of the tram from the bottom of the cliff.

      Next time I’ll have the proper shoes and climb the stairs—donkey poo and all 🙂

    • Val — You bring up a great point. We have so many choices to choose from. Sometimes the sheer volume of options can be overwhelming.

      Here’s an example… on a 3-week trip to Europe I determined to buy one and only one item as a remembrance of our adventure. There were a myriad of choices everywhere I looked. The majority of what I saw were immediate “No’s,” but there were several “Yes'” that presented themselves. I ultimately ended up purchasing a petite volcanic rock bracelet in Santorini. Coming back through Customs I’m pretty sure the officer didn’t believe me when I said I’d only purchased one item over a 3-week period in Europe, but it’s the God’s honest truth 🙂

  6. Just last week my Principal told me that I make things more difficult than I need to…I still don’t understand what he means. Hopefully, when the end-of-year craziness calms down he’ll be able to explain that to me. I’d hate to think that I do make things more difficult than necessary. And, if I do, now I’m reflecting on why?
    Thank you for your post today!

  7. This is a deep question. Depends on the day and the purpose? There are gifts to be harvested by walking and taking on the challenge, as long as the purpose of the walking is self-development, not self-punishment.

    • Arlene — You’re absolutely right! There are many people who intentionally self-sabotage their progress (self-development) because of the baggage they choose to carry through life. How to offload baggage is the main theme I write about in “Note to Self: A Seven-Step Path to Gratitude and Growth.”

  8. Because I have made things more difficult than necessary in the past, as I have matured, I appreciate the concepts of working “smarter not harder” and “pacing myself.” I would consider how much energy I would want to expend getting to the top, and that would determine my choice. I feel grateful that physically I am able to consider all three choices as possible options.

  9. I do it all the time, Laurie, especially if I’m feeling rushed and dive into a problem before I take the time to think about it. Slowing down and thinking things through is the best way for me to simplify rather than multiply the stress.

  10. Oh Laurie, my dad’s words come ringing back to me loud and clear in this post. . . “why do you always have to do everything the hard way”. Over time however, I’ve learned:)

  11. Sometimes it depends on how we view a task. If the steps route encourages us to be fit and challenge ourselves in a positive way that’s a good choice. If we’ve always wondered what it would be like to ride a donkey and want the experience, we would put up with the smell, and say to ourselves afterward, “Well, now I know what THAT was like!” If we fear breaking something on the slippery steps (my balance, sadly, ain’t what it used to be), just want to enjoy our day, see the view, and move onto other things, the elevator would be perfect. In making a choice in so many areas of life, keeping our goal as the guide is the most helpful.

  12. When there is an escalator available in a store or at a subway station, I take it over the stairs. But I can’t seem to stand still and just ride. I have to walk up or down the escalator. But it is still easier on the old legs and feet than taking actual stairs.

    As for decisions – I am trying to learn to put a lot on the back burner, in the pending file and maybe if they just don’t get done, some of them at least, will go to my other more serious list “what I refuse to do anymore.” This is a timely post, Laurie, because it got me thinking and I blogged my personal aspect of it (turning into a frenzied gardener and I like gardening) in my blog this week https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/only-child-becomes-frenzied-gardener/

    And Laurie I’m looking forward to reading your book when it comes out.

    Cheers from too-dry and cool (as in “brr”)Toronto, Canada

  13. Laurie, I’m so glad I happened to check my LinkedIn feed today! I love the comments your question has triggered. I have a tendency to think myself in circles when there are lots of options. Remember in The Princess Bride when Vizzini tries to out-think the Dread Pirate Roberts? http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?BattleOfWits (script of the scene). That is how some of us paralyze ourselves when faced with a choice in life. It’s not always about choosing the easiest path, or the path of least resistance. When our logic brain overshadows our connection to source, we become easily confused.

  14. Interesting! Sometimes in life decisions it is hard to know what some options might be, and then when we do it is not always easy to discern which is the BEST answer. Sometimes it is not the difficult one, although we may think because it is difficult it is the right decision. Occasionally it turns out the easiest is best…but not always. Sometimes we have to list the pros and cons of each choice, then rest on it awhile. Often the right answer comes while waiting in peace.

    • Ann — I often use the Pros/Cons method, dividing a piece of paper down the middle, top-to-bottom with a line, and then listing what I feel are the fantastic outcomes on one side, and the not-so-fantastic outcomes on the other. As you additionally mentioned, sleeping on it is another great way to come closer to a decision 🙂

  15. It’s my motto in life! Why drive in a straight line when taking the long way is always more interesting! Mundane is for boring people, make life exciting once in a while.

  16. What is very interesting is that for each of us our level of difficultly around something is unique. For example public speaking for some might be like taking a tram ride, while for others the steps may as well climb to infinity. I find it useful to look with wonder at the places where I just hop on the tram, but also the ones that might look like a tram ride to others, but are mountain to me. In some of the small things “hop on the tram” or “keep climbing” are both useful. 🙂

    • Ailsa — You’re oh-so-right! Definitely what’s easy for one might be difficult for another, and what’s hard for one might be easy for another. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective! 🙂

  17. Always Laurie , to begin with I really have a problem with logic , either that or I’m darn stupid 😃 I never see the easy way. It’s just like I was put on this earth to struggle . I do hope you have the violins out 😆😆
    My husband , here he is again , is a slave to my antics …well he always says he is . You see he always sees the easy way well before me ….it could be I let him 😉 Did I say I was stupid ?

  18. Way too many times I’ve done this! I’m a planner and sometimes there are things that just can’t be planned ahead of time, but I will take the difficult task of trying to do it that way anyway. 588 steps…what a great workout! Beautiful picture. Tina

  19. I read this on Tuesday and thought about it, but no comment came up until now! I think that sometimes the easy path has more to teach us; sometimes the more difficult path will assist us in taking in life’s lessons at a deeper level. Perhaps sometimes we need to walk slowly to allow our realizations to sink into our feet and blood and bones. On the other hand, it’s always beneficial when we’re conscious that we may be choosing the difficult path when an easier one exists–that we’re stuck in a pattern of making it harder than it need be.

  20. Uuuhh….good question. Moving from my home in Georgia was hard. Physically taxing and emotionally draining. Keeping the old upper lip starched to the proper degree of stiffness while saying farewell to family and friends almost got the best of me. This evening in Austin, Texas on my journey to California, I wonder how much easier it would have been if I had simply relinquished all control and let myself simply be dragged along like like a piece of rope? I think the less help I offer, the faster we will go. Planning to try that method tomorrow. We all know it’s easier to pull something than it is to push it.

    • Sandi – Ohhhhh, I know that saying good-bye had to be difficult. But just think of how many things you’ll get to say hello to! And… your new location in Sunny southern California will be a dream location for all of those family and friends to come visit! 🙂

  21. I just walked for 1.3 hours,something I do most days. I don’t sprint or jog anymore. So I conserve energy while waiting for opportunities to challenge myself I other ways. I have picked climbing over elevators and have enjoyed parasailing, so I do love adventure also. Poop? Not so much.

  22. Excellent… after a decision comes its consequences… And you are right when you highlight that the process involves choosing between two or more possible options… At the end, most times we are free to choose…. But we do it from certain alternatives, so it is a restrictive process at times… Unless we are talking about creative issues… and that just to a certain extent.-…
    the analogy involving the Karavolades stairs is wonderful… thanks so much for sharing Laurie… Happy sunday! Aquileana 🙂

  23. As I am aging it seems every task, even the simplest, turns out to be a complicated mess. Well looking back, it has always been that way. I have 3 large pictures to hang on the wall today… Hmmm. Maybe tomorrow.

  24. All the time. For some reason I get stubborn and insist on doing it MY way, the way I’ve figured out will work best, even if it’s more difficult. And sometimes I make things more difficult just for the challenge of seeing if I can still do that task. Like doing a three-place multiplication problem in my head rather than reaching for the calculator.

    And give me a trusted map over Google Maps and GPS any day!


  25. Laurie, to be honest I have always lampooned that propensity, but opining: “Why make it easier for yourself, when you can do things the harder way?” To be honest some of us find different reasons, one a sense of security to walk down the thornier path to be sure. 🙂

  26. I took a photo for you, Laurie: https://goo.gl/photos/7xJPSt3tkE6BhTbG6 I went to Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California, and found a sign pointing left for the difficult trail and right for the easy trail. This beach is unique because it has lots and lots of weathered sea glass, but there is less glass on the “easy” trail because tourists have been taking it as keepsakes. Do the difficult trail (really, just steep wooden stairs with no handrail) and you get to see a higher concentration of colorful bits of glass.

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