Good, Fast, and Cheap

By Greg Baer M.D.

May 2, 2016

Recently I was getting my chain saw blade sharpened, and there on the wall of the shop was a sign:

We do three types of jobs here:
Good, Fast, and Cheap
You may choose any two, but only two!
If you want it fast and good, it won’t be cheap.
If you want if fast and cheap, it won’t be good.
If you want it good and cheap, it won’t be fast.
So choose carefully.

Similar guidelines might be written for life.
We can learn to achieve happiness in three ways:
Good, Fast and Cheap. Let’s look at the outcome of combining any two of these:

Fast and good. If we want to achieve great happiness (good) quickly (fast), it cannot be cheap, because cheap means that little is required in terms of effort and sacrifice. I have seen a very small group of people achieve genuine happiness quickly, but they were willing to make extraordinary leaps of faith, to meticulously follow the guidance of others, and to be almost unwavering in their diligence. In short, the sacrifices they made were not small—not cheap. And although it is possible to find happiness quickly and deeply, it still requires lifelong maintenance, which eliminates even more the possibility of “cheap” in true happiness.

Fast and cheap. If we choose these two approaches—fast and little faith or effort—the possibility of profound (“good”) happiness simply does not exist. If we want quick rewards with little effort, what we get is praise, power, sex, and more—all Imitation Love, but not genuine happiness.

Good and cheap. If we try to find real (“good”) happiness with little sacrifice (“cheap”), we’re on an impossible road. Good and cheap are simply incompatible with real happiness of any sort.

The best approach to happiness is not to choose any pair described above. The best success is found simply by pursuing genuine happiness, which results from feeling loved, being loving, and being responsible. The speed is irrelevant. We need only continue to take the next solid step, one after another, at whatever rate is possible for us individually. Real happiness is the greatest gift of life, and we only distract ourselves if we try to achieve it quickly or cheaply.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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