What is simple isn’t necessarily easy

Time we stopped mixing up the two concepts

Not a random photo, as you’ll see in a bit. (Photo: Ayo Ogunseinde)

What’s simple is not necessarily easy.

Everyone kind of knows this, but people still get the two mixed up. And with good reason, considering that both are about ease.

So what’s the difference? Here’s a helpful way to think about it:

When we describe something as SIMPLE, what we usually mean is that it’s easy to UNDERSTAND.

When we say something’s EASY, we mean it’s easy to DO.

Once you see the difference, it’s clear that what’s easy to understand isn’t necessarily easy to do. And even if it’s easy for you, that doesn’t mean it’s easy for me.

Anyone who has tried to break a habit knows how hard it can be to do something simple to understand.

And, as any good teacher can tell you, what comes easily to you is hard for someone else to even wrap their minds around.

Like tying shoelaces, some things are only easy because you’ve had a ton of practice, not because they’re simple.

If you really want to help someone understand something, the first step is understanding where they are struggling: are they struggling with understanding it—or with doing it?

If it’s with understanding, don’t explain it again. Try explaining it differently.

And if it’s with doing, give them opportunities to practice a little more.

Find where people are stuck and help them there.

And in the meantime…

Try not to tell people stuff is simple when they’re struggling to do it—or that it’s easy when they don’t even get it.

Better yet, don’t use the terms at all when you’re trying to help.

Just help.

After all, if it was really that simple or easy, they’d be doing it, don’t you think?

Hey. I have an email list where I share regularly with people who want to be better at being themselves. Join here and get a free ebook.

Published by Doc Ayomide

I’m a medical doctor with specialty training in psychiatry, and I love thinking and writing about what it means to be human.

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