The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday

The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday


We let too many powerful, life-changing quotes and sayings pass through our ears without taking any action on them. It's time to take pause, listen and then actually change our lives because of them.

"The only easy day was yesterday."

This famous saying is etched above the grinder in the BUD/S compound. Every bleeding back, bruised knuckle and searing muscle produced during SEAL physical training is underneath this sign. But what does it really mean?

For me, there are two powerful and opposing meanings to this statement. One meaning has provided me a refuge, a destination if you will. The other reminds me that this shit never ends, so get used to it.

A "Paradise From The Pain"

Have you ever done anything extremely dangerous, tough, demanding or painful? Do you notice how good it feels when you're done? That's the "paradise from the pain" that this saying represents for me.

People do something for one of two reasons:

  • 1) Avoid pain
  • 2) Gain pleasure

The avoidance of pain can produce quick results; however, it's a weak catalyst for action. The acquisition of pleasure, on the other hand, can drive a man or a woman to do some amazing things.

In the early stages of SEAL training, they put you through what's called "Hell Week". You're basically awake for five days and in constant wet, painful and very cold motion. The entire time I was going through this ordeal, all I would think about was how great it would feel on Friday when they "secured" us from Hell Week. All that was on my mind was the pleasure of going to Bullshirt to buy the coveted "The only easy day was yesterday" t-shirt that one only "rated" after the completion of Hell Week.

This motivation to gain something good was my "paradise from the pain" because no matter what was happening, no matter how bad it was, my heart and mind was sitting on this island of accomplishment thinking about how "easy" it will all be once Hell Week became yesterday.

This Shit Never Ends - Settle In

I was training a young man the other day who wants to become a SEAL. We were running on the beach talking about the "mental management" of SEAL training. It was our third evolution of the day, and I was explaining to him that BUD/S is much like this - endless demanding physical or mental evolutions that would go on for more than six months. And once BUD/S was over, it didn't stop - training for deployment was also demanding. Never ending. The only easy day would always and only be yesterday because today you have to prove yourself again.

I explained to him that BUD/S could have lasted forever and I would have been fine. I had "settled in" and accepted that every day I would start over and prove myself again.

Putting It All Together

Though these two things seem to be opposite in nature, I find them to be two halves to the equation of life.

On the front end, the saying promises me "pleasure" once the tough stuff is behind me. The reward that has me kick ass every day with a smile on my face.

On the back end is the idea that there will always be a challenge, so there's no reason to resist it anymore. Just put your head down, keep spitting the blood and don't stop. I know this sounds a bit "agro," but think about it. If one is to live a life of purpose will that individual not always have something difficult to accomplish? I mean if you have everything handled financially, physically, mentally and spiritually for yourself and your loved ones, wouldn't it then be time to hit the road and start helping others who are suffering and dying everyday? I think so.

Retirement is for pussys!

This Shit Isn't Meant To Be Entertaining

Stop nodding your head like you get it - now what are you going to do? Here are three questions to ask yourself to inspire action:

  • 1) What are you now going to quit doing in your life?
  • 2) What are you now going to start doing in your life?
  • 3) What are you already doing that you're now going to modify?

"The only easy day was yesterday."

What does it mean to you?


About Eric Davis

Eric Davis served our country as a U.S. Navy SEAL and decorated veteran of the Global War on Terror. Eric has been recognized as one of the premier sniper instructors in the U.S. military and has served as a Master Training Specialist at the SEAL sniper school. Davis is also the host of The Loadout Room, author at SOFREP, a GovX "Insider" and founder of the human performance company Average Frog. Follow him, and all his exploits, on Twitter @EricDavis215

Leave a comment:

roy r.

1/9/2014 12:45 PM

Thanks Eric, it was good to learn more about that slogan. I remember when I got home from the Gulf War (1990-1991) I was diagnosed with cancer from the harmful effects of breathing oil smoke and chemical weapons that were burned. I spent 13 months doing chemo and radiation treatments, I would always tell myself before I went for a treatment, "The only easy day was yesterday". to keep me motivated...I didn't know at that time, it was your SEAL motto....Thanks for your service to our country.....roy

Eric D.

1/10/2014 8:30 AM

Roy, Your welcome and thank you for the insight on how that saying / mentality helped you through some tough times. I think sometimes when were getting are "asses" handed to us it can feel like were the only ones going through stuff and then you hear about a story like yours and how you were able to keep things in perspective and it's humbling and inspiring. Thanks!!

Dennis S.

1/9/2014 6:45 PM

I have one arm made it through the gulf war and Mogadishu and came home in 94 everyone thought I was going to give up I still surprise everyone by concurring everything at church they get mad when I say move and let the one arm guy do it the navy taught me well the only easy day was yesterday I know well I can do most anything I set my mind to never quit and pain is a motivator thank you for your service and running around that frog

Eric D.

1/10/2014 8:32 AM

D - Amazing and I love "Move let the one arm guy do it". That's an amazing motivator. People need reminded (daily) that they are so much more capable than they realize and having someone swoop in with one arm and get the job done is a great wake up call.


1/9/2014 8:22 PM

Motivating words. Master Chief Burwell "Bo" often told me that if you "ain't cheating, you ain't trying." At first, this seemed to go against some ethical barrier that I had, then as I pondered on it, and him, I realized what he was saying as an experienced Seal operator. He was saying, Prevail. No matter what. Prevail. By then as a HM2 Navy Corpsman I set my sets on becoming a physician. Hurdle after hurdle, a virtual gauntlet to get there. Today I am a practicing Anesthesiologist. I get it.

Eric D.

1/10/2014 8:38 AM

From HM2 to Anesthesiologist - Amazing! I used to be a Corpsman as well and we all talked about doing something like you did, but few actually do it. For sure you get the "If you aint cheating you aint trying" motto. Since your of science I think you will appreciate this. That saying "If you aint cheating...) is explained scientifically as "Conservation of autopoiesis and adaptation" Meaning that we thrive as a species by conserving our limited resources and exploiting every opportunity we can. Sounds selfish, but that's how we work. Thanks for thinking and I'm inspired to write about "If you aint cheating...) Great stuff!

Raython M.

1/11/2014 7:35 AM

Something everyone should remember. Thanks. Semper Fi

Eric D.

1/13/2014 5:38 PM


Troy A.

1/14/2014 10:10 AM

Eric, I've been kind of stuck....Haven't seen my essence in a long time, but these words were directed towards me and will be my catalyst to get "unstuck." Thanks for the inspiration, and most of all your service to our great country! Troy

Eric D.

1/14/2014 10:59 PM

Troy, There is no better thank you than to hear your words: "Haven't seen my essence in a long time, but these words were directed towards me and will be my catalyst to get "unstuck." I look forward to hearing what journey this moment takes you through. Eric

Jacob B.

1/19/2014 6:15 PM

I appreciate your input on the quote. It inspires me greatly, as I'm about to join U.S Army active duty next week. I've done a bit of reading enlisted soldier's experiences, and blogs about how "I hate the Army and here is why". As I was reading through their complaints I wondered what type of people they would have been in the civilian world. My guess is the same people we hear about complaining about their jobs, life, life problems etc. People that just won't shut up and suck it up. I've been through my battles in life, and the one thing I've learned is to show up with the best you have and leave everything else at the door. There's conflict? Deal with it. There's pain? Fight through it. I'll remember your interpretation as I attend boot camp! Thanks again. Jake

Eric D.

2/11/2014 1:33 PM

Jake, Perfect way to go at it. It was actually an FBI agent that taught me to quit complaining about how "F" things are and just do my best. Great stuff.

Troy A.

2/10/2014 5:49 AM

Eric, once again thanks for your encouragement. I've gotten my @55 up off the couch. I've lost 7 pounds, changed my diet and am on my way! I'm 53, and am determined to get in the best shape of my life. Any other suggestions are welcomed! Keep doing what you do, you are a blessing to others!!! Regards, Troy

Eric D.

2/11/2014 1:35 PM

Troy, Wow - And extremely inspiring. We'll keep it going. GovX is committed to producing more than just the gear. We're all after it!! Thanks! Made my day.