“The best and most rewarding things come after a struggle.”
What is pain? Is it good or bad? Do we need it in our lives?
Watch this incredible video by Elliott Hulse on the topic:
(If you liked this you may want to watch the hour long discussion I had with the man Elliott himself!)
The Purpose of Pain:
As Elliott brilliantly discusses, pain is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it is completely necessary to grow and become a resilient, well-rounded person.
“A life without pain is a life without challenge, a life without challenge is a life without growth.” – Elliott Hulse
Yes, avoiding pain is necessary in some situations to avoid danger and keep you safe. Here are some examples:
1. You touch a hot pan and immediately pull your hand away after feeling the pain.
2. You cut off a bad relationship because the person is causing you pain and agony.
3. You stop half way through an intense weight lifting workout because you tweaked your lower back.
In these situations, it is necessary to stop whatever you are doing.
However, in other situations there are times when pain gets in the way of you and your potential.
Pain and emotional discomfort can also prevent you from pursuing your dreams and desires in life. These mechanisms keep you safe, but they can be harmful to you if you let them control you.
A lot of the time discomfort is mandatory in order to challenge the boundaries of your ego and defy the psychological lies that you tell yourself.
Here is an example of a common self-inflicted lie that you may tell yourself: you are at the gym, you see a strong man bench press 200 lbs and you immediately think, “That is pretty cool. I wish I was that strong but I could never do that. He must be gifted with the right genes.”
NO. That is a lie. This guy can bench 200lbs because he has been going to the gym and working on his bench press every week FOR THE PAST FEW YEARS.
Maybe even 20 years.
He didn’t get to this point by working out whenever he “felt like it.” He likely has been putting in an incredible amount of time, dedication and PAIN to get his butt in the gym especially on the days when he was tired and did not feel up for it.
When you look at this guy, you see the final result.
What you don’t see is all the years of painstaking hard work, focus and persistence. THAT’S where the results came from.
The same goes for just about any other person who is highly successful and has impressive achievements.
So when you look at someone in envy and think, “I wish I could do that, but who am I kidding I could never get to his level,” stop yourself and reflect on this thought.
Is this thought necessary or even worth a millisecond of your time?
You will find that thoughts like these are completely pointless and unproductive. There is no good reason to think “I can’t do that,” EVER. It is just a sign of weakness in your character.
Rid yourself of all negative, unproductive thoughts like this and you will be a much happier person.
Same goes for failures. Labeling an experience as a failure is just an illusion. No matter what, you learned something from the experience.
I even learned that it is not only important to fail, it is mandatory in order to grow and be the best version of yourself. Fear of failure is just another obstacle that will get in your way at some point (even for the best of us). It is important not to be able to overcome it or ignore it, but to learn to acknowledge it and face it even if you are incredibly nervous!
I cover much more about fear and the ego in the Guide to Greatness ebook. Enter your email below and I’ll send it to your inbox!
Now as you may know, I have been setting many goals and difficult fitness challenges for myself on this website. I have now completed 30 days of freezing cold showers, 100 pushups in a row, and 20 consecutive pull-ups.
I have also done other things in the past year that were uncomfortable like karaoke singing in front of large audiences, socializing alone at bars, cold-approaching hundreds of attractive women, starting my own podcast, opening up to the world about my past struggles with erectile dysfunction, and much more. These are all things that were uncomfortable at first, but helped me develop and expand my character.
THIS was uncomfortable. Performing on stage was one of my BIGGEST fears not too long ago:
(I’m the handsome fellow on the left)
“Please give me some challenges here because I need to grow in my resolve with whatever weakness is in my character.” –Elliott Hulse
I chose to face the above fears because I wanted to test my perceived limits and grow. Through these experiences I have learned that limits in general are only illusions that we tell ourselves.
We do this in order to stay in our comfort zone and feel safe. But consequently there is no excitement or ALIVENESS in this place.
If I wanted to stay comfortable and safe I would have thought,
“I could never confidently do a rap performance on stage in front of a large audience.”
Right then I would relieve the emotional pressure and pain of experiencing the difficult challenge. “Aahhh what a relief…” It’s much more pleasant not thinking about difficult challenges or obstacles ahead, but then again with this mindset you inhibit growth.
Without growth there is no life.
So I ask you, do you want to feel alive or do you want to feel dead? It is your choice.
If you want to grow and feel alive, choose not to take the easy way out.
Instead, choose to transcend your old counterproductive thoughts and “JUST DO IT,” as Nike says. Set goals, go after what you want in life and don’t quit when the “going gets tough.” Stick it out and reap the rewards after your journey.
When I set out on the path of achieving various personal goals, I realized that pain is inevitable. I realized that if I want to do 100 pushups in a row, I have to put in painstaking work on a consistent basis (and yes, doing 200+ pushups four days a week was considerably painful).
If I want to improve at approaching and talking to women, I have to go through the pain of countless rejections.
Furthermore, the cold shower challenge was one of the most uncomfortable challenges I took on. Stripping down to my birthday suit and jumping into FREEZING cold water was never a pleasant activity.
If I wanted to I could have quit halfway through by telling myself, “Well I’ve already done 10 days in a row of cold showers and I already learned a lot. 10 showers is good enough. I’m done with this stupid challenge.”
I could have been a quitter and thought nothing of it.
I could have even felt proud of myself for getting through 10 days of cold showers. But something else would happen in this case: I would be content with compromising, and ultimately content with weakness.
I probably would not realize at the time, but the decision to quit this challenge would support a “quitters attitude” in all other areas of my life. For example, with this consistent mindset I will likely quit half way through a tough workout because “it’s just too hard,” refuse to approach a beautiful girl because “she’s too hot for me,” and half-ass a project at work because “it is just too stressful.”
All of these examples are common now a days with people who would rather quit halfway through, avoid awkward situations and ultimately hold themselves back.
“I have learned that limits are only perceived lies that we tell ourselves to keep us comfortable.”
Every time you overcome a challenge, you get stronger.
The stronger you get, the easier other things in your life become.
The more adversity you can withstand, the easier it is to deal with an angry girlfriend or the debilitating fear of public speaking.
The harder you push yourself in the gym, the easier it will be to stand up for yourself when it seems the world is against you.
Without obstacles or hurdles we have no resistance. With no resistance there is no revolution and no accomplishment. There is nothing to celebrate. Nothing to be proud of. No growth.
One should not ignore and stray away from pain and discomfort if it is an obstacle between you and what you desire. Instead, acknowledge it, embrace it and then transcend it with all your focus.
I am an enthusiastic explorer of life, modern philosopher and life coach. I write about optimal living and the pursuit of happiness. I also host the Highly Conscious Man health podcast on iTunes and interview experts, coaches, authors and inspiring entrepreneurs every week.
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