The Simplest Fix Is the One Everyone Ignores

Want more actionable ideas every week?

Join millions of readers and subscribe to Your Next Breakthrough newsletter below.

    100 people had breakthroughs this week. Will the next one be you?

    One thing for you to think about

    Most of what we perceive as problems will magically go away after a walk outside and a good night’s sleep.

    Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

    One thing for you to ask yourself

    Are you ignoring what’s most obvious in your life? It’s tempting to drown ourselves in books, videos, and newsletters in an effort to become happier, more productive, when the most obvious adjustments are often the most simple and straightforward.

    If you don’t sleep enough, it doesn’t matter what else you do: your mood will suck and you will struggle with controlling your negative emotions. If you don’t eat decently or exercise, you will lack energy and motivation. Ask yourself, what’s the simplest thing I can improve?

    Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

    One thing for you to try this week

    Commit to improving that one simple thing this week. It can be as simple as going to bed an hour earlier each night, not drinking alcohol with dinner, not snacking in the afternoon, or just going for a 30-minute walk outside each day.

    Commit to it. Do it. Then report the results. You’ll probably be surprised.

    Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. Reply to this email and let me know how it went for you.

    Last week’s breakthroughs

    In last week’s newsletter, I asked you to confront the pain covered up by your excesses and take one action to address it.

    Felipe’s starting small with a journal entry:

    It’s 1 PM on a Monday and this is the first thing I did besides making a cup of tea. My excess is sleeping and generally moving very slowly through life, without a bother, as if everything would be okay just by taking things one day at a time. I’ve always known it was hiding some kind of pain as you said: the pain I’m hiding is a feeling of pressure to do something with my life. I have a job and will graduate in a couple weeks, but I don’t have any long-term goals, or short-term ones that I take very seriously. I think that by thinking honestly and writing down a few short- and long-term goals for my life I would be able to feel a stronger purpose to get me out of bed and move quicker through life.

    Not only is that true, Felipe, but it doesn’t even matter if the goals are the right ones. As I’ve written before, most of the value of goal-setting is not the goal itself, but the direction they give you to start moving.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, while Felipe’s looking to accelerate, Lori has realized she needs to slow down:

    What a breakthrough this gave me. I am an efficiency junkie. You know the little red bubbles that appear in your email when there are messages waiting? Those red bubbles eat my lunch. In my quest to conquer as many tasks in a day as possible, I wait to eat until I’m ravenous. Always busy checking one more thing off my list. When you don’t eat until you’re starving, you don’t make good food choices. I would much rather have roasted vegetables than ginger snaps for lunch, but of course I haven’t had time to go buy fresh vegetables and I don’t have time to roast them because by the time I stop to eat, I am too hungry to wait.

    So here’s the question you posed. Why am I covering up pain by always being so efficient? And the answer is, I have been finding my worth in getting the maximum amount of tasks completed. I would feel much better if I slowed down and ate right. I am going to focus on that and I’m so thankful you posed a question that made me aware of this.

    Not only do you make worse food choices when you’re hungry, Lori, but you make worse choices, period. What if you made 10 excellent choices each day instead of 100 mediocre ones? Something to think about.

    Finally, Karen’s beginning to confront perhaps the worst pain we can feel, the pain of being unwanted:

    This week you got to me. I wasn’t expecting to have such a visceral reaction to this week’s ‘thing to try.’

    The answer came almost instantly. The excess is overeating and the pain it’s covering up is knowing deep in my soul that I wasn’t wanted. By either of my parents, but mostly my mother. Food has been my comfort and protection in the absence of unconditional love. As I write this I feel lighter, liberated, a great burden gone. I no longer need to crave and hope for love from her, ‘cos it’s never gonna be there. The burden of fruitlessly proving I’m worthy of her love is one I don’t need to lug around anymore.

    Right now I don’t know where this revelation will lead and what changes it will bring. But you asked the right question and from somewhere within, the answer came. Just like that.

    What a profound realization! Know that the love of thousands of strangers is going out to you right now Karen, as you begin on the journey this realization has brought. I’m sure there are many people out there who can relate to what you’re feeling. Thank you for sharing.

    As always, send your breakthroughs by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.

    Until next week,

    Mark Manson

    #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
    My WebsiteMy BooksMy YouTube Channel