I use running metaphors for a lot of things. Probably because my running time is my thinking time and it’s while running that many of my “a-ha” moments occur…
Running can be a painful pursuit, but I have learned to love it.
Several weeks ago I did my first run in the heat. It had been a long winter, and the weather made a sudden transition from high temperatures in the 50s to high temperatures in the mid-80s.
The run absolutely kicked my ass. My recovery was slow. I felt like crap.
A couple of days later I ran in the heat again. Same experience tough run/tough recovery.
And then it started to get easier. The runs became manageable—even running mid-day with little shade. After about 5-6 weeks running in the heat began to feel normal.
Every year I go through a similar process of heat acclimation. The first hot runs of the year are BRUTAL.
And then, over time (a relatively short period of time, really), MAGIC occurs. Running in the heat never gets easy, but it is most definitely gets easier.
If you want things to become easier, you must first push yourself through the hard part.
If I refused to run in the heat at all—because it’s effin’ hard!—it would never get any easier.
It’s a natural human tendency to avoid pain. But sometimes pain leads to joy, and frequently pain leads to growth.
Here is something that I have observed:
Short-term pleasures (like overeating or binge watching Netflix) frequently leave us feeling sick, guilty, and unfulfilled.
Short-term pain (like an intense workout or completing our taxes) is more likely to give us a positive outcome like better health and/or a sense of accomplishment.
I talk about this a lot with clients who struggle with making healthy choices. They perceive these choices as painful, but don’t think about the more sustainable pleasures these healthy choices will bring to them.
So what seems simple—avoiding pain and seeking pleasure—is actually a little more complex.
One way to help yourself to see this pattern is by keeping a record of your choices and how you feel afterward. I like to do this in my journal.
(You know I like to journal about everything, right? It is one of my all-time favorite personal growth tools.)
Writing stuff down makes it harder to ignore. Through your writing you will begin to get a clearer picture of the pain caused by short-term pleasure, and the pleasure earned through short-term pain.
Eventually this awareness will allow you to make choices that serve you better in the long-run, even if they are temporarily uncomfortable.
What do you think? Can you see these patterns in yourself? In which areas of your life do you consistently allow the short-term pleasure to outweigh the long-term gains?
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