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.
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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 applies in relationships, completing tasks and responsibilities, and personal choices.
Classic Easy vs Right scenarios
Relationships- For teens, the easy way vs. right way comes up a lot in interpersonal relationships and conflict resolution. For example: handling difficult situations via text instead of face-to-face conversation; letting someone know you are angry by blocking them on social media without discussing it; excluding someone from friend activities instead of addressing a conflict. 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.
Responsibilities- The easy way may seem easier in terms of meeting your responsibilities, for example, doing a chore just enough to get to go out with friends only to have parents upset when the teen returns home; doing the minimal needed on a paper and getting a lousy grade; cheating by borrowing someone’s test/paper instead of doing your own work. 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.
Personal choices- 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 to wrong behaviors- 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.
High School Health Class / Social Emotional Development topics:
Age Group: High school, young adult.
Age Group: High school, young adult
Choose an historic or current event in which doing it "the easy way" isn't necessarily "the right way." Discuss what motivates people to choose the easy way and what the consequences are of avoiding the root of the issue.
Watch this video and discussion points from Facing History about how a community rallied together to stand up against bigotry in their town or this activity from Teachable Moments about how Australians rallied together to help Muslims in their neighborhood feel safe. Discuss why doing what was "right" wasn't "easy".
Write a dialog or movie scene about a teen who completed a responsibility poorly (easy vs right) and the other someone who was affected by it. Consider the reasons the teen didn't do the chore (easy vs right), the consequences of the incomplete action, and consider how the teen and affected party can choose to communicate with each other about it (easy vs right in terms of communication style). It could be a parent, teacher, friend... even the family dog. For example, a dialog from the dog's perspective "Jason, dude. How could you do this to me? You had one job- walk me before you went out with your buddies. But no. You left me here all night, full of kibble with no relief..."
See this activity and worksheet on communicating with respect and caring in an online world.
Download a printable coloring page for a mindfulness activity with this quote.