Princeton University psychologist Daniel Oppenheimer did a study where information was presented to two groups in two formats: One printed in small, hard-to-read gray type, the other in larger, black type. Subjects were given 90 seconds to memorize as much as possible, then distracted with an unrelated task for 15 minutes before being tested.

The hard-to-read group scored 86.5%, the easier-to-read group scored 72.8%. When researchers asked teachers to use the same technique in high school classes in chemistry, physics, English, and history, similar outcomes were observed. (Study to be published in “Cognition,” as reported in The Economist, October 16, 2010, p. 98.)

Is there a life lesson here? Perhaps that challenge invigorates? Or that there is an upside to every downside? Or simply that the more effort we put into something, the more we get out of it?

It is the resistance of the weights that builds muscles at the gym. It is in overcoming challenges that we grow.

Closing quote:

“That which we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly.”