The games in Rio just ended. Even the elite athletes' glory is fading from the most intense high of their lives, that they trained and sacrificed most of their lives for, to regular lives.

As silver-medalist Adam van Koeverden said:

I woke up on Tuesday, after traveling home on Monday, and I thought to myself, 'What do I have to do today?' And the answer was nothing.

For a guy who won a silver, that transition sounds brutal. What about the majority who won nothing?

Wait a second... the rest of us woke up and asked what we had to do today too. Is it any easier for us? What's different for someone who tried?

Getting down to it:

When success isn't guaranteed and it can't last forever anyway, why bother trying?

You're here, reading this article on this page because you try. You know it's worth it. Have you articulated why?

You have two options in life.

You make countless choices every day. They all boil down to two options.

Option 1 is to try

Option 1 is to try, meaning actively trying at things that matter to you. If you try, things won't always work as you want and you will sometimes feel bad.

Not bad like your fell and scraped your knee. Bad like what's-the-point?-Every-time-I-try-I-fail-so-why-keep-trying?-Why-bother-going-on-at-all?-I'm-a-failure-and-always-will-be bad.

As far as I know, you will feel that way if you try--from gold medalist to every entrepreneur ever, to you when you learned to swim or ride a bike, to any baby learning to walk.

Option 2 is cookies, ice cream, and TV

Option 2 is to eat cookies and ice cream and watch TV, meaning to entertain yourself passively. Your passive entertainment may come in many forms besides literal cookies and ice cream, as long as you don't have to try and make yourself vulnerable.

This route doesn't lead to feeling bad in the way the first option does. On the contrary, it protects yourself from it.

Some who favor actively trying suggest that the passive cookies, ice cream, and TV option would make them feel bad. No problem for people who choose this option.

You just get more cookies and ice cream, order more cable stations, find more exciting and distracting shows to watch, play more video games, and so on to keep distracting yourself from sensing your pain.

If you start sensing regret or any other feeling you don't like, all you have to do is click to something more intense. Instant distraction. After a while you learn that feelings you do like eventually lead to ones you don't and you distract yourself from them too.

As best I can tell, people who choose passivity sometimes think about taking more active control of their lives. Most of them, as they challenge themselves ("move out of their comfort zone" is the cliché), feel anxiety and veer back into passivity.

Judging by sales of ice cream, cookies, TVs, cable subscriptions, video games, and other distractions, our world is moving more into passivity.

The choice

Breaking life's choices down to two is one of my simplest mental models.

If you try, you may not get the gold. Even if you do, it doesn't last forever. The world seems to be choosing option 2 more than ever.

We who try and embrace failure do so because we can't conceive of option 2.