It’s easy to hear what you want to hear. It’s easy to hurry through a job done poorly. It’s easy to blame someone else. But the easy way is only easy for a little while. Over time, easy outs and half measures cause a never-ending, nagging pain, like a splinter that reminds you with every step that it’s still annoyingly embedded in your left butt cheek. Doing something the right way—in a relationship, for your future, at your job— might be harder at first, but at least the splinter is out, and your left butt cheek will thank you.
This quote is a classic reminder that taking the easy way out or doing things half way isn’t necessarily the smart, best, or right way to handle a situation. As teens set goals and strive to make healthy decisions, the easy way may get in the way of healthy growth. The quote, "There's the easy way and the right way" applies in relationships, completing tasks and responsibilities, and personal choices.
For teens, the easy way vs. right way comes up often in interpersonal relationships and conflict resolution. Handling any of these situations the easy way is usually not respectful of others and can damage relationships. Using empathy to consider how doing something the easy way will make others feel (or how they themselves would feel if someone else did it to them) can help preserve relationships and one's own self respect. For example:
The easy way may seem easier in terms of meeting your responsibilities. When the teen thinks about the goals they've set for themselves, the easy way rarely helps achieve goals and may even prevent them. Perseverance and grit in the face of challenges, doing tasks the right way the first time, has greater impact on goals. For example:
Teens face lots of stressors and may be tempted to escape through self-destructive habits. But after the escape, the problem is still there. Whether it's using alcohol or drugs to dull a pain, or binging on Netflix to avoid homework, the problem lives on after the moment of escape. Solving a problem the right way instead of the easy way is healthier in the long term.
Standing up for what you know is right can be risky. Teens are faced with many examples of wrong behaviors in others and have a choice to make about being a bystander to bullying, ostracism, racism, bigotry, or other injustices. Choosing when and how to stand up for what you believe in is an important part of developing a sense of self and pride in the type of person you choose to be.
For teens learing to make healthy decisions, it's good to learn early that the easy way may seem easy, but in the end it usually causes more hassle than doing it the right way in the first place.
Questions to prompt discussion, journaling, essays for high school health class and social emotional development lessons:
Activities and worksheets for teen SEL / high school health and wellness lessons: