Avoiding problems is easier than fixing them

I think a lot about character, virtue and how to be a better person. One observation is that it’s far easier to avoid having problems in the first place than it is to overcome them once you have them. This applies to many of the more mundane aspect of life:

  • debt
  • addictive substances
  • poor health
  • bad people

The more in debt you get, the harder it is to get out as more and more money is eaten up by interest.

Once addicted to a substance, it’s hard to give up the addiction. Often it’s impossible to completely overcome it. Alcoholics famously say that you never stop being an alcoholic.

Once you let your health degenerate or a health condition progress, it’s often exponentially harder and costlier to treat. It’s harder to treat late stage cancer than early stage cancer. Ditto for most diseases. It’s easier to loose weight if you’re a bit fat than if you’re too obese to walk. (Although in fairness weigh loss is almost entirely down to diet)

The more you spend time with bad people, the more likely you are to be drawn into their problems/pathologies and to meet other bad people through them.

My general approach in life is to avoid these problems in the first place. I think one of the major causes of people making bad decisions in regards to various kinds of problems is conformity. Hence I think that by ignoring social consensus on something being "okay" and trying to decide for yourself if the risk tradeoff is justified, you can usually come to a better decisions. This is especially true of alcohol which is widely normalized but is actually a highly dangerous, highly addictive drug which causes health damage even when consumed in small quantities.

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