Why We Do Things That Are Difficult


“At the end of the day, I feel like I have accomplished something.”

I remember the line as if it were yesterday, though in fact it was over four years ago.

I was fascinated and conflicted when I heard it then, and even though I have tossed the sentence around in my head for all this time, I still struggle with what to make of it.

You see, the line didn’t come from a fireman saving puppies from burning buildings; it didn’t come from a sculptor, refining her work in clay with each passing day.

It came from someone who was explaining to me what it was like to really be immersed inside of World of Warcraft, the massive multiplayer online game.

That wasn’t the only time I’ve heard it – the sentiment has been echoed over dozens of interviews with different people: The feeling of accomplishment in the process of completing quests and levelling up – and doing it as part of a collective, a group.

People speak of their experiences inside of these games like a job, explaining the necessity to get things done, to execute tasks and perform them well…

And it begs the question, given the opportunity to do anything – to play, create, make – why is it that we choose to work, to do things that are difficult and exert such substantial effort, focus, and time?

Perhaps the answer lies in that first quote, that we all want to accomplish something.

On one hand, it is just a game, and the young man who is quoted has actually spent the entire day in front of a computer screen.

But on the other hand – so many of us spend our entire days in front of a computer screen – and without consistently feeling like we can say we have accomplished something.

Between commutes and emails and meetings, we spend our days in a cycle of activity, a loop of screen-based interactions and tasks, often without the time to step back and think about what really matters to us… and often this business comes at the expense of more meaningful or focused work.

So maybe there is a lesson to be learned, about ourselves, and about the real world we live in.

As we get busier and busier, we have to make time to engage in things that matter, and to make a difference in the lives of the people around us.

The things we “waste our time on” are the things we choose to engage with…

But we don’t necessarily equate “fun” with “easy” – which is an interesting and important distinction.

What can the allure of the digital world show us about what we’re looking for and longing for in the real world?

This is one of the big themes, and drives many of the recurring questions in, Avatar Secrets.

So perhaps it is time to trust our instincts and dig a bit deeper into exploring what it is that is really pulling at us, what it is that we are looking for and longing for.

If it is achieving that sense of accomplishment, how do we bring that into our day to day realities?