The beauty of constraints

“All you have is what you do, everything else is in your head”


One of the constant effects of social media is a continuous exhortation to push our boundaries, stretch ourselves, and accept no limits. But without the support of people we know, who are there to catch us when we stumble or cheer when we hurdle, it’s a dangerous game. There’s a fine line between risk-taking and recklessness; it’s a fact that online gambling depends upon.

Constraints are our friends. They define the finite game we are playing today in the context of the infinite game that is life. Once we identify a boundary, we have something to push against. Lev Vygotsky termed it “the zone of proximal development”, or ZPD. It defines that area of maximum learning just beyond what we are comfortable with and what might break us. Learning, after all, is not a leap; it’s a relentless climb.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by huge challenges, from climate change to politics, to personal issues. The answer is not to “accept no limits” but instead to set our limits beyond what we are comfortable with but can see. Compound small achievements.

Progress is determined by what we do, not what we worry about. 

One foot in front of the other, every day, in the company of friends. 

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