Photo by Christian Erfurt on Unsplash

No pain, no gain is an old proverb that has been in use as an exercise motto since the 1980s. The phrase promises that after paying the hard, and often painful, price, you get to experience better rewards. It became popular after 1982 when actress Jane Fonda aired a series of aerobics workout videos. She would repeatedly use the catchphrases No pain, no gain and Feel the burn in her videos as a way to push past the point of muscle pain.

The expression has been adapted in several fields today Under the concept of this phrase, competitive professionals, such as artists and athletes, must first experience physical suffering (pain) and mental/emotional suffering (stress) before they can attain excellence in their chosen fields.

No pain no gain definition

Asides from the sports/exercise concept the saying used to have, it has evolved to cover other areas of life as well. No pain, no gain can also apply to the quality of life you live. Whether you live a life of contentment and happiness depends on how hard you are willing to push yourself.

According to Freud, there are two types of people based on their approach to life. The ones who adopt the pleasure-pain principle and the ones that adopt the reality principle. Let’s look at what sets these groups apart and how their principles affect their life choices and quality.

The first group of people approach life by a simple system of avoiding pain and actively seeking pleasure. Their daily mantra is, “if it feels good, then grab it; if it feels bad, avoid it.” For most organisms whose method for survival is pretty basic and instinctive, this is a good model. It works well for lower life forms like bacteria and protozoa. But when it comes to human beings, the effectiveness is questionable at best. It only works well in the very early stages of human life, where we are governed by instincts alone. The adults take care of every other thing, and all the babies have to do is eat, sleep, poop, laugh, cry, and coo.

There is a limit to how much this approach will help you achieve later in life. There is a general rule of life that your attitude towards work can either make or break you. If you live following the pleasure-pain approach, you will shy away from making the investments and putting in the hard work that will lead to a successful and satisfying life. You will never learn to work at improving yourself. You will work little, save little, and spend a lot chasing pleasure. Your greed for pleasure will become so great, and nothing will ever satisfy it. You will miss many opportunities because you were too scared to try.  In simple terms, you waste your potential for greatness and accept mediocrity because it looks like a safer, low-risk path.

The second group of people, on the other hand, are realists. They know that nothing good comes easy, and they would have to work their butt off to get the kind of life they desire. Wilfred Bion, a British Psychoanalyst, believed you could train and develop the mind, much the same way as you could train and develop your muscles. He believed that learning through experience and facing challenges head-on, instead of evading it, was a good way to develop your mind.

Any good sportsperson worth their salt know that you must challenge your body and test its limit to develop physical muscle. We must also learn to challenge our minds and test its limit to grow mental muscles. You cannot do this without pain. The process does not happen in a vacuum, and pain is part of that process. You have to push yourself to engage with the reality of the world. Work with the complexities of life, its challenges, the sacrifices, the uncertainty, the fears, rejection, and trial; that is how to grow as a person. You must learn to feel and endure the burn.

In enduring pain and putting aside today’s pleasure, you invest in tomorrow’s rewards. People who adopt this approach tend to be healthier, more successful, happier, and generally more satisfied with the quality of life they live.

No pain No gain Meme

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Source: HappyShappy

Source: QuickMeme

Source: QuickMeme

No pain no gain Quotes

“Everybody wants happiness, and nobody wants pain, but you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.” – Zion Lee.

“If you want to enjoy the rainbow, be prepared to endure the storm.” – Warren W. Wiersbe.

“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.” – Kenji Miyazawa.

“The next time you feel slightly uncomfortable with the pressure in your life, remember no pressure, no diamonds. Pressure is a part of success.” – Eric Thomas.

“Follow your pain as if it were a candle in the night, leading you to a place of decision.” – Caroline Myss.

Why suffering is necessary in order to achieve something

Photo by Gordon Cowie on Unsplash

In sports science theory, there is a term called supercompensation. Supercompensation is the period after training where your trained function or parameter has a higher performance capacity than it did before your training period.

Source: Wiki

Generally, you can group the human fitness level into four periods – initial fitness, training, recovery, and supercompensation. As shown by the above image, during the period of initial fitness, the person has a base level of fitness. On entering the training period, their fitness declines. After training, the body enters the recovery period, and their fitness level increases up to the initial level of fitness. However, because the human body is adaptable, it seeks to adjust itself to a higher fitness level in preparation for the next training session. So the increase in fitness after a training session does not stop at the base fitness level. Instead, the body enters a period of supercompensation where the fitness level surpassed the initial fitness level. If your next workout occurs during the supercompensation period, you experience a higher level of fitness. However, if you don’t work out during the supercompensation period, that fitness level slowly declines to the initial fitness level. Any workouts that occur after the supercompensation period will not increase the fitness level from the initial level. You have to suffer the pains of the training period to reap the rewards of the supercompensation period.

However, there are common mistakes that people make while training. For example, if you workout during the recovery period, overtraining may occur and cause overuse injuries. There is a big difference between enduring pain or soreness during exercise program and suffering. You have to pay attention to the warning signs that your body gives when it reaches its limits, or you run the risk of causing yourself serious injuries. Many athletes do not do this, and that’s why they have sports injuries like joint pains, strains, and sprains.

To prevent unnecessary suffering and further injury, whenever you notice a sharp pain during physical activity, see a healthcare professional or physical therapist.

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The same thing happens with our real-life experience. That short period of pain and discomfort is important to carry us into the zone of super-compensation. When you experience the storms of life, you also experience intense emotional processes. Reality forces you to have to deal with those pains to grow from them. But if you choose not to, the pain grows into suffering (and not the good kind).

Pain is important for growth. Once you accept what has happened or what has to happen, it helps you reconstruct your beliefs on a stronger and more durable foundation. These new beliefs will make you more resilient and strengthen you in ways you cannot imagine. Think of it as rebuilding a house after an earthquake. Once you have accepted that your house is gone and not coming back, you set about rebuilding a better house with more solid foundation.

There is a concept known as Kensho vs. Satori. This concept teaches us that we can grow in life either through pain or through insight. Kensho is growth by pain. It happens when you experience pain that forces you to take a shift. For example, you have this business idea you have been toying with, so you borrow a lot of money to invest in the business, but it crashes before you can get back your investment.

Now that’s pain. It is painful to lose a huge amount of money and end up in debt. But the pain is an experience that teaches you what went wromg with your business venture and what not to do the next time you attempt another business. That is growth caused by the pain you experienced.

The second method, Satori, is a more pleasurable experience but happens far too infrequently. Some people may even go through life without experiecnig Satori. Satori comes from moments of sudden awakening and means growth by insight. You could be going about your regular day and something just comes to you at random and it clicks.

Source: Mindvalley

Satori may be infrequent but by immersing yourself in personal growth and development, you bring yourself to a point where you receive more often Satori  moments. Kensho moments may even bring you Satori. You might be there contemplating the mistakes that you have made and you get a sudden inspiration of the things that you can do to improve the quality of your life. Like the above image suggests, Kensho and Satori can both improve the quality of your life.

As said before, your attitude can either make or break you. Think of pain as an opportunity to grow and it will not lead to the soul-sucking destruction that we have come to expect.