Jorge Manrubia

April 29, 2024


The best things happen after uphills.

That’s one of those counterintuitive life lessons. Our brain seems to demand downhill: predictability, certainty, and ease. But the satisfaction downhill brings is shallow and ephemeral. What’s worse, too much downhill brings boredom, and lack of motivation is no joke.

Of course, some uphills are too steep. And some end with an unbreakable wall. But then there is the right amount of uphill: as soon as you reach the top, you will long for more. The problem is that, for the most juicy uphills, knowing if there is a wall ahead is only possible in hindsight. 

I think uphills explain why many people who can retire don’t or how many kids from self-made rich people end up being messy and unhappy. The former yearn for what energizes them; the latter didn’t even get to learn what that is after a life of downhills.

Any endeavor worth pursuing has both negative and positive aspects. Mistakes, frustration, fear, and stress come along with having fun, learning, growing, and feeling energized. You obviously want to maximize the good and minimize the bad, but I don’t think you can only get the good. You would be in downhill territory if you did.

As I said, counterintuitive.

About Jorge Manrubia

A programmer who writes about software development and many other topics. I work at 37signals.