No Pain. No Gain.
Anyone else find that saying obnoxious? Or, dead wrong.
Okay, so I have to admit, I do not like to sweat. I detest a drippy, sweaty body, where your clothes stick to you and everything is damp.
One minute you’re hot, the next you’re damp and chilly.
I do realize this discomfort gets in the way of exercise, moving my body in a way that is healthy.
I get it. And, I have to remind myself that I live in a modern house, with two showers available to me. What’s the big deal with sweat!
But, since when did we decide to apply this motto to everything? The belief that we must endure pain and stress to achieve professional excellence and a fulfilling, successful life?
No Pain, No Gain.
Did You Agree to That?
Ever ask yourself why you believe you must suffer to achieve success? Why you must work hard and endure vast amounts of stress to gain?
In past years, the concept was meant only to apply to exercise. It promised greater value and reward for the price of hard, or even, painful work.
Jane Fonda, back in 1982 brought the idea into prominence, along with the other catchphrase, “Feel the Burn” where she promised that muscle soreness was the result of working out past the point of experiencing muscle aches. You built muscle and endurance that way, according to her.
But, would it surprise you to know the concept of “No pain, no gain” has been in existence way before 1982?
In fact, the belief dates back to the beginning of the second century in which the term was interpreted to be a spiritual lesson; without the pain in doing what God commands, there is no spiritual gain.
David B. Morris wrote this in The Scientist in 2005, “‘No pain, no gain’ is an American modern mini-narrative: it compresses the story of a protagonist who understands that the road to achievement runs only through hardship.” He described it as being a modern form of Puritanism.
But, let’s go back to the idea that “no pain, no gain,” when applied to everything, only guarantees that life and achievement will be filled with stress and suffering.
Who truly wants that? Certainly not me!
Life on planet Earth was meant to be about happiness, joy and connection. Not suffering and pain.
We are meant to thrive, grow, be creative, change, and reproduce.
So, why would we intentionally invite pain into our lives?
What makes us humans agree to suffer to live a life of meaning?
You might be thinking, at this point, “Wait a minute, Joan! But, it does take pain, toil and hard work to attain anything of value or importance. The only way I have truly gotten anywhere is by painstakingly hard work! Nothing of value has come easy, and when it does, it means less to me.”
Yes, I do recognize that many things in life do not come easy, nor without putting our shoulder to the grindstone, so to speak.
Getting a bit sweaty. Pushing past resistance. Pressing forth to new growth.
However, what I’d like to suggest is that “pain” is not a natural outcome of gain.
Instead, pain is a wake up call – a spiritual lesson.
When pain enters your life, it gives you the opportunity to ask, “Why are you here? What lesson am I to learn? What is it I am meant to change or shift?”
My belief, one that has taken years to formulate, is that pain only shows up in my life to WAKE ME UP!
Again, and again, over the years, as I suffered my way through an unhappy marriage, toxic job environments, hurtful relationships, and a drive to succeed in my chosen field, I have found out in the long haul that pain was unnecessary.
Except, I thought I had to have pain to get there. To achieve. To have an abundant, fruitful career.
Until, a serious health challenge woke me up!
Hey, Joan, hello! What are you doing? Did you know there’s an easier, more fruitful, and fulfilling way?
Dang straight there is – and the pain was my guide. If I was in pain, emotionally, physically, or spiritually, it was my opportunity to listen, and to shift, change, or let go.
How about for you? Is it time you gave up the tired, old motto, “No Pain, No Gain?” Because, other than a very narrow use in exercise (and, not all exercise, mind you), PAIN IS SIMPLY A WAKE UP CALL.
Are you listening?