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Pick Your Pain

Brian Smith


Training for a race next month that you hope to win?
Pick your pain: the pain of sprints today or face the pain of losing next month.

Building a business and hate selling?
Pick your pain: suck it up and risk the pain of rejection today or face the pain of shutting down a failed business tomorrow.

Want to lose weight for that Tulum trip?
Pick your pain: suffer through a few salads and exercise classes or face the pain of trying to hide your gut at the pool and in every photo.

Dealing with a challenging relationship?
Pick your pain: have a hard, honest, and painful discussion today on your terms or face a devastating blow-up in the future.

Humans are creatures of comfort. We naturally pick the path of least resistance. Let’s rename the “path of least resistance” to something more illustrative: “the path of least pain.“

We set goals and hold ourselves to ideals because they are, by their very nature, challenging.  We must push ourselves and grow - we must face pain - in order to accomplish the things that matter to us in our lives and to become the people we hope to become.

Facing pain is one of the fastest paths to learning. Even our aphorisms tell us so: “once bitten, twice shy.” Not all pain is physical, of course.

“Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one’s self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily; and why older persons, especially if vain or important, cannot learn at all.”

-Thomas Szasz

Facing the immediate pain greatly reduces the future pain of unmet goals, expectations, hopes, and dreams. Whenever you’re facing a challenging decision, ask yourself what pain you’re picking: near-term pain in pursuit of growth, or long-term pain in pursuit of comfort.

“Success is the result of hard decisions, not hard work.”

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