Inviting pain

Have you ever had a good work out without feeling a bit of pain, soreness or discomfort? Have you ever achieved anything that you felt was meaningful without challenges? (And, if you did, would you feel it was meaningful?)

Life is a series of ups and downs. And, the way I see it, you can either experience a down or invite a down yourself. This sounds somewhat masochistic – so, let me explain myself.

Take a simple example – you can choose to enjoy a period of eating lots of delicious food combined with no exercise and feel certain that there’s a “down” coming. The down will either be gaining a few extra pounds or just feeling lethargic and unhealthy. Similarly, you can choose to skip studying before an examination or slack off before an important deadline and be certain that there’s pain coming on the other side.

The impulsive and emotional part of our brain is wired to make short term choices. It comes from a few thousand years foraging in forests. Who knows if you’re going to be alive to enjoy the next meal? Might as well make the most of it while it lasts.

The wiring clearly doesn’t apply anymore. So, we’re better off adapting to the times and re-wiring ourselves to be suspicious if there’s too much ease. Instead of coasting towards our critical deadline next week, expect challenges and push to finish earlier and faster by waking up earlier and working longer for a couple of days. A little bit of pain now can ease the path later.

Re-wire yourself to invite pain. That way, you’ll expect problems and eat them for breakfast.

Muhammad Ali once said – I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’

He buried the lead and made it sound like training is a short-term thing. It isn’t. We never really stop training.

So, we might as well get on with it and embrace it.

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