I know that this might sound a little weird, but I believe that most pain is a good thing.
Most pain, that is.
For example, most of you know how strongly I feel about the Pain of Never Again.
Not only is that pain life-changing, but it can be life-saving too.
Years ago, I remember hearing a story about a woman who stayed in line at Six Flags amusement park for over an hour in 90-degree heat to ride on a roller coaster with her son.
When they finally made it through the line and arrived at the roller coaster, something life-changing happened to her.
And it wasn’t pretty.
The Six Flags park attendant couldn’t close the safety bar to secure the woman in the roller coaster car because she was too overweight.
In an incredibly cruel fashion, the other kids and parents waiting in line started laughing hysterically as the park attendant called over another attendant to help push down the safety bar on the woman, to no avail.
Even worse than her own humiliation, was how mortified her son was by all of this.
He was simultaneously humiliated by the vicious laughter and teasing, but also desperately sad about the treatment of his mom.
He waited for months to go to Six Flags (specifically to ride this roller coaster), and even though his mom pleaded with him to ride the roller coaster alone, he wanted to ride it with her.
After the park attendants had no choice but to give up, the woman and her son both made the walk of shame past the line of snickering park goers–and as they walked away, she noticed tears in her son’s eyes.
As she walked away, she said the following two life-changing words to herself with anger, sadness, and complete conviction:
That is The Pain of Never Again. Once she felt it, her life was never the same again.
We’ll revisit this woman’s story later on in this post, but for now, let’s bring it back to us.
Have you ever felt this life-changing pain before?
God, I hope so.
Don’t get me wrong, the Pain of Never Again is an absolutely miserable experience, but it’s something that we should all experience at least once in our lives. Everyone (and I mean, everyone) who has experienced it has walked away from it a better person.
Even though that’s true, the Pain of Never Again is doing it the hard way.
There’s an easier way, but unfortunately, it’s going to require us to pay a price.
Even worse, it’s also going to involve some pain too. The good news is that the pain is very temporary.
Let’s add some clarity.
The Pain of Discipline vs. The Pain of Regret
There are two types of pain you will go through in life: the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces and regret weighs tons.” -Jim Rohn
This Jim Rohn quote is one of my all-time favorites. Or worded differently, in our lives, we have the choice to suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of regret.
This is a choice that cannot be avoided.
It took me a while to fully understand what this meant, but I definitely get it now.
Pain is unavoidable. It is inescapable. The question isn’t if we’ll experience pain in our lives (because believe me, we will), the question is how much pain we’ll experience and to what magnitude.
Since pain isn’t going anywhere, it’s a complete waste of time to spend our lives trying to avoid it. That would be as crazy as spending our lives trying to outrun our own shadow.
A much better idea is to learn to become more comfortable with feeling pain–most specifically, the Pain of Discipline.
The good news is that the Pain of Discipline is temporary. It doesn’t last forever, even though it might feel like it while you’re fighting through it.
Every champion and every successful person in this world’s history has learned the importance of fighting through this pain, and if we choose to live our best lives too, we must learn to embrace this pain as well.
The failure to do so could be devastating to our overall well-being.
Here’s a small example of this in my personal life.
Every Tuesday morning is my early workout day. In order for me to have a meaningful workout, I need to be at the gym at 5 a.m.
Just so you know, please believe that I’m not one of those people who loves to go to the gym. I only do it for two reasons: 1) because I want to feel healthy enough to do the things that I choose to do in my life and 2) to ensure that I stay alive for as long as possible for my two little girls. That’s pretty much it.
But let’s be real–every time when that alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, all I want to do is roll over and fall back asleep.
It’s at that moment that I’m presented with a familiar choice:
Choose the Pain of Discipline or The Pain of Regret.
As I said earlier, the Pain of Discipline is temporary. In this example, it only lasts for the duration of my workout, which is an hour at the most. And as always, I feel amazing once the workout is over.
However, the Pain of Regret is different. This pain isn’t a brief experience. In fact, there is no limit to how long this pain can stick with me.
On the mornings where I rolled over in my bed and fell back asleep, I always ended up feeling like crap when I woke up.
The regretful pain of failing to keep a promise to myself (and indirectly, to my little girls) is infinitely worse than the temporary pain of an hour workout.
At this point you might be thinking, “What is this? Some sort of fitness motivation post?”
Not even slightly.
The Pain of Discipline vs. Regret philosophy is so much bigger than a simple gym workout.
This crucial choice can affect every area of our lives.
If we don’t find the discipline to put money into a savings account, we’ll experience the regret of having no funds available during an unforeseen financial emergency.
If we don’t find the discipline to quit procrastinating on that important report at work, we’ll experience the regret of looking like complete asses in front of our coworkers and bosses when it’s time to finally present that report to them.
If we don’t find the discipline to completely honor and respect ourselves, we’ll experience the regret of spending valuable years of our lives as someone’s doormat.
If we don’t find the discipline to make healthier food choices, we’ll experience the regret of our physician telling us that we’ve been diagnosed with a very preventable health issue.
If we don’t find the discipline to stop being a chronic complainer, we’ll experience the regret of living a life where no one wants to be around us.
If we don’t find the discipline to sit down and start writing that book, we’ll experience the regret of seeing another author become wealthy and successful using a book idea that is similar to ours.
If we don’t find discipline to seek help to get our drinking under control, we’ll experience the regret of destroying our relationships with our spouses and kids (sadly, this happened to a friend of mine).
Hell yes, discipline is tough and the pain of it is very real.
But it’s temporary.
Paying The Price
Remember the woman who I mentioned earlier in this post?
She used that mortifying situation at Six Flags to find the inner strength to master the Pain of Discipline.
She changed her diet, went to the gym for the first time in many years, and most importantly, she reclaimed her health and her happiness.
During that time do you think that she wanted to give in and skip going to gym? Do you think that she wanted to reach for a Big Mac and fries instead of a lean chicken breast and veggies? Do you think that she wanted to give up entirely?
Absolutely, but she didn’t. She feared the Pain of Regret more than the Pain of Discipline.
Truthfully, we all should.
Less than a year later, she was back at Six Flags with her son and they both rode the roller coaster that changed her life. It was an incredibly emotional moment for her, and it was one that wouldn’t have been possible if she didn’t choose the Pain of Discipline over the Pain of Regret.
Like I said earlier though, she did it the hard way.
We don’t need to feel the Pain of Never Again in order to live our best lives. All we have to do is commit to put in the necessary work.
One of the main themes of The Positivity Solution is to remember that our best lives are waiting for all of us, but our best lives won’t come to us without putting in some serious effort.
In other words, we must pay the price.
If there is something that you know that you should do, if there a goal that you have set for yourself, or a dream that you’ve always wanted to make real in your life, I want to talk directly to you for a moment.
A life looking in the rear view mirror dreaming about “what could have been” with a heart full of regret is not for us.
We can refuse to experience the Pain of Regret, we can overcome the Pain of Discipline, and most importantly, we can get one step closer to our best lives by making the right choice right now.
The good news is that we only have to do it today.
One thing is for certain for all of us.
We can either pay the much cheaper price now (Pain of Discipline) or we can pay the much more expensive price later (Pain of Regret), but we can make no mistake about the following point:
We will pay.
That fact is unavoidable.
If so, let’s do it on our terms.