Why don’t we praise effort?

Do you downplay your efforts when you achieve something or even when you don’t achieve something, just to seem…cool or cooler? Why is exhibiting effort or trying hard a negative thing? Maybe cool is not the correct word, but my point is, why do we downplay our efforts at all? Shouldn’t we praise our efforts, instead of overlooking or shunning them? I feel that effort matters and those who put in effort should be rewarded, even if they do not achieve what their efforts were intended for. Effort is the evidence of intentions and compassion and it makes deserving a reward that much sweeter.

I’ve been thinking about how people often convey their minimal efforts in different aspects of life, so to seem that things came easily. I’m not sure what it is, but I do it too. I think I do it to make it seem that I don’t want it that much, so even if I don’t get it, it doesn’t look like I failed. I’ve written something similar before, about the difficulty of letting people know what you want. It’s hard, because if people know what you want, and they also know what you didn’t get. In a way, they will know if you fail. Another interesting point my friend brought up is the attention aspect of achievements. Maybe we downplay our efforts to draw less attention? To stay humble, perhaps? It kind of works in that way, only if the person is tactfully executing it. I just feel that sometimes people are humble bragging instead.

Take the very age-old example of dating. A guy wants a girl, he prepares his approach, gathers his confidence, and goes up to her (this is his effort, it shows that he wants her), but he ends up with no phone number (this show that he fails). In this case, his effort with preparation seems wasted and harsh as it may sound, he seems like a loser. On the other hand, there is this guy who, with the added help of liquid courage goes “Eh,” goes up to the girl without much preparation or effort. In either outcome, he comes out with a nonchalant attitude because he didn’t really want her that much anyways.

I’m not sure if these are the best examples, but it just seems that the person who is seemingly more nonchalant and shows less desire is revered more for their minimal efforts. Because I am surrounded by a lot of academic achievers, they always seem to credit their success to purely their intelligence and emphasize how they did no work, but still are able to attain high marks and even make it to prestigious universities. Instead of being wowed by their lack of hard work and pure intelligence that got them the successes they’ve attained, I can’t help but feel indignant of their successes when their effort was not there. Why do they deserve it if they didn’t put effort? Because I feel that effort shows that you care and that you want something. If there was not effort, there seems to be no passion or even the slightest of aspiration.

I guess effort is too subjective of a measure to praise. It just bothers me sometimes that people will convey minimal effort, but if someone points out their prior privileges or advantages that may have supported their successes, the person instantaneously will feel insulted and credit all their achievements to all the hours of hard work they put in. They start to feel entitled and credit their success to only themselves and their work. The portrayal is not consistent.

Anyhow, happy Leap day! On this extra day, I thought I put in more effort with my thoughts and with my blog so I can remember the mindfulness trains I boarded.

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About Lynn Vo

I am just another mind with a laptop and fingers that type out the thoughts that invade my brain. I like to share these thoughts because it's extremely selfish of me to keep these thoughts open to only one person who has access to it. Share your thoughts with me and I'll keep them safe.
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