Blog: The Least I Could Do

There were times way back in the old days before I knew my bride when I might buy a girlfriend some chocolates for her birthday. When I was thanked by the recipient, I would invariably say, “That’s the least I could do.” I was being literally accurate. I could have done so much more. I could have bought the person fine jewelry or an expensive article of clothing, but I bought chocolates which was, in fact, pretty much the least I could do.

The more I think about it (I wish I could turn my mind off), the more I have come to believe that doing the least I can get away with is a magnificent credo by which to run my life, and an approach that I have practiced for many years now.

For instance, when I was in college I was quite happy to get a B. Why would anybody get an A when with considerably less effort you could get a B? There was absolutely no need for me to extend myself for an A when I could relax, enjoy my life and settle for a very respectable B. I still don’t see how my life would have turned out materially different if those Bs had been As.

A few years ago I went to see my internist for a general checkup. He asked me if I exercised, and I told him the truth—very little. He then suggested that I do a cardiovascular workout at least five days per week for a minimum of 25 to 30 minutes per day.

Now, I bet you, my discerning reader, can figure out exactly how many days and how many minutes I work out. You are correct. I work out no more than five days a week and not a minute more than 25 minutes a session.

I work out at Diamond’s Gym, and I ride my stationary bike to get my heart a-pumping. Everybody there knows that as the clock approaches 25 minutes I prepare for a quick dismount, and I make certain that exactly when the second hand hits the 25-minute mark, I am getting off that bike just as quickly as I can.

The doctor never told me that I would live a minute longer if I worked out a minute longer, so why not continue what has worked for me thus far in life—doing the least I possibly can.

You are probably asking yourself whether I apply this same lax standard to others. Of course, the answer is in the negative. I do not believe what is good for the goose is necessarily equally good for the gander. I may not care particularly if a chef is good or excellent, but believe me, if I need surgery, I am not going around asking for a mediocre surgeon who settled for Bs. I want a straight-A surgeon. I may be peculiar, but I’m not completely nuts.

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