Productive Pain and The Hard Thing About Hard Things

There comes a point in time when (hopefully) most of us realize the dichotomy of living: pain, happiness, and reward are unavoidably intertwined. We will either feel pain from action or inaction. We will either feel the pain of exercise or we will feel the pain of our bodies breaking down prematurely. We will either feel the pain of taking a risk and falling in love or we will feel the pain of loneliness. We will either feel the pain of working a job we hate or we will feel the pain of starting our own businesses. You see the pattern here?

Pain is inevitable. The key to managing pain is to pick productive pain. Pain for the sake of pain is a waste, but pain that pushes us forward is an asset. This is what I like to call productive pain. This form of pain pushes us to become the very best versions of ourselves, yet so many of us avoid it because it’s profoundly uncomfortable and hurts too much. Unfortunately, we live in a hedonistic world that tells us pain is bad and to avoid it, and that is often what holds us back.

So, instead, we take the “easy” route. The irony is that this seemingly “easy” route is costly in that we not only end up with pain, but it’s pain that produces poor results, ultimately leading to more pain. However, productive pain, while more painful initially can eventually take us to a rewarding place.

You will either experience pain from discipline or pain from regret. Either way the choice is yours.

It’s important to remind ourselves that worthwhile experiences, goals, and endeavors are often quite painful. Getting in shape, summiting a mountain, building a business, finding and maintaining a worthwhile relationship is both rewarding and taxing on our minds and bodies. Due to this pain, many of us will quit before even reaching our potential; it becomes too hard and too much. So, instead we reach for low hanging fruit; the crappy job, the sedentary lifestyle, the readily available hookup or toxic relationship.

This is when the major difference between those who succeed and those who don’t come into play; the people who delay reward and push through the most productive pain are the ones who ultimately reach their potential. The mantra of “never give up” sounds trite, but the reality is too many of us will give up. On our fitness, on our businesses, on our dreams, and on ourselves, and that is even more painful.

So, which type of pain will you choose? Pointless pain or productive pain?

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