No Pain No Gain
Contributor
Written by
Sharron Richardson
September 2010
Contributor
Written by
Sharron Richardson
September 2010
When it comes to working out, the adage is "No Pain No Gain". While it might not be necessary to be howling in agony (in fact that's probably a really bad idea), certainly we need to move to, at the very least, discomfort. We need to work past our comfort zone in order to move to the next level. An adage I try to live by is Work Hard, Rest Hard, Play Hard. Those six little words help me remember to keep balance in my life. In fact, that is the theme of the book I am writing. Having spent my life focusing almost exclusively on the Work Hard part of the phrase, remembering to include the other two takes a conscious effort on my part. I suspect that each of us probably focuses predominantly on one of these to the exclusion of the other two. Sure, it's comfortable focusing on our natural strengths and inclinations, but are we growing? Not so much. Which section do you default to? For myself, upon waking, it doesn't take long for my "To do" list to start rolling around in my head. Work first, Play second (sadly, until I figured out the balance thing, I rarely got to the Play part and never got to the Rest part). Maybe for you, upon waking you start to think that you need to take some time to think and plan before you can actually move forward. Maybe you have all kinds of goals and plans. But maybe you're spending so much time planning your life, you're not actually living it. Or maybe once your eyes open, you start to think about all the fun stuff you can do today, the people you're going to see. We're all a mix of the three, but often we tend to default to one more than the others. No Pain No Gain applies to all three areas of our lives. It's not just about working out. Yes, in order to progress physically, we have to push ourselves farther, faster (cue the Six Million Dollar Man music...), lift more, extend the stretch, hold the pose, one more push-up. But let's look at this philosophy as it applies to Work Hard, Rest Hard, Play Hard. Work, in a broad definition, means anything you must do: earn a living, parent your kids, care for an elderly or sick relative, things of this nature. Some of these things may bring you great joy and happiness, and they may not feel like "work", but if it's something that must be done, we'll call it work. In order to progress at work, we must learn new skills, open ourselves up to ideas, hone our people and communication skills. We all know the kind of employee who progresses: he or she is pro-active, always learning, company-minded, people-oriented. It probaby took effort to learn these skills through classes, reading, mentorship. The point is, that employee had to push past the comfort of "just doing enough" to move to the next level. The same goes for any areas where we "work". Resting is a lot harder (at least for me) than it looks. I don't mean a good night's sleep or grabbing forty winks. I'm talking about taking a rest from your life to assess. Where have you been and what did you learn from it? Where are you now? Where are you going? Where do you want to go? How will you get there? What matters to you? Life can be so demanding and busy that we just keep doing, doing, doing, with no real idea that we should have switched lanes quite some time ago, that what we're currently doing isn't really getting us where we want to go. Actually stopping can be very painful. It can make you feel unproductive, lazy, spoiled, selfish, and any other number of negative labels. For me, it was my brother's death that finally forced me to stop. That was two years ago. When I finally stopped "doing" long enough to hear my inner self, she had plenty to say, and she was none too happy with me. Two years later, my life is heading in the direction I want it to. For now. Because that's the beauty of Resting Hard. You take regular breaks to assess and think and regroup and correct. This is hard work. Not all of us easily knows who we are, or what we want to be when we grow up. It takes time, and it takes effort. And it can be very uncomfortable. It sounds silly to say that it can be painful when we Play Hard. I don't mean the kind of pain that comes from too many cocktails. When I use the term Play Hard, I mean finding that which brings us deep joy and peace, not superficial fun. It can be very uncomfortable going through spiritual exercises to determine what our soul really wants, what we're here to offer to the world, what (not who) we love. Determining this can take us far outside our comfort zone. Maybe you were exposed to the horrors of the Congo, and you feel compelled to contribute to the solution in some way. This is painful. This is coming to terms with some ugly truths, being able to live with them, knowing you are doing what you can to help because being a part of the solution brings you peace. Or maybe you are a musician but you stopped playing a long time ago when life and work and kids took priority. And maybe now you want to feel that deep down glow you used to feel when a piece literally flowed out of you. You could see the beauty in the music. However, now your fingers don't work like they used to, and scales are physically painful. And it's going to be a little while deep in discomfort before you can recapture that beauty. Maybe you're a writer (comma Sharron) who took a break for twenty years while real life intervened, and now you feel vaguely guilty sitting long enough to write a piece (especially when there is so much work to be done!), and not only that, the words just don't flow the way they used to. You recognize you're going to have to spend some time in discomfort while you relearn to rework the words. Playing Hard is finding that which makes you unique, that which you love, and bringing it forth into the world. Very uncomfortable stuff indeed. In fact, I would argue that life is an ebb and flow of growth and maintenance at all times. Sadly, some of us can even move to "de-conditioning" - where it's been so long since we've pushed ourselves beyond our comfort level that we are atrophying, physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. Life, to me, is about pushing ourselves, sometimes a little, and sometimes a lot, then maintaining for a bit, and then pushing some more. I'm finally learning that applies to all areas of my life. My forced period of Resting Hard caused me to ask some hard questions, and now the joy I feel while Playing Hard is something I can't imagine being without. It needn't be a grand gesture. Simply taking the time to write this blog post brings me joy. The point is not for people to read it (although it's lovely when you do). The point is for me to write it. The point is not to do something for joy because you receives accolades from others (although it's nice when that happens). The point is to do the thing - fail, learn, try again, fail again, suck at it, learn a little more, stretch yourself. Be uncomfortable. The gain is worth the pain.

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