The End of Another Myth
No Pain. No Gain. No Way!
To which do you aspire, the pain or the gain part? Upon hearing the phrase, do you feel the urge to run out and get, what, healthier, happier, more enlightened? Bigger, smaller, thinner, something-er?
Is it even true?
Where did we ever get the idea that pain – in other words, that which we normally seek to avoid at all costs - was an, or the - essential part of something we would like to achieve at most costs. Health?
We’re just asking.
Is it really the case that, “according to the pain is the gain?” That Pirkei Avot, writing in the beginning of second century, is a reliable source for today’s world, for any world prior to, and after, the particular ideological world of his region and day?
Are any of us still, were any of us ever, Puritans? If not, why would we allow the, “16th and 17th Century No Pain, No Gain Puritan Legacy,” as one doctor refers to it, continue to thrive in our minds, in our attempts to become healthy, such that, when contemplating possible activities in the direction of health we begin to doubt whether it’s even possible? If we are even capable. That it would require an act of self denial of some degree, or even more so, a life of “drastic self denial,” and that such a life would even be healthy in the first place, or can be logically contrasted to a shorter “deeply satisfying life” of “enjoyment” or fulfillment and greater awareness?
No, really. Who says?
Or, must we travel backwards a yet little further, where the redemptive value of suffering - the fall of one man (Jesus) - would compensate for the first fall of the first man (Adam)? Are we so intrinsically “Judeo-Christian” still that becoming healthy is heroic, that we “should embrace suffering and sacrifice” to become something we are yet not but would like to be?
Why does it take short or long periods of fasting to become “more conscious of God?”
And all this time we thought that was called "denial."
The “no pain, no gain motto” as it appears in the modern era, writes another, has no basis in science, but “on outdated sports psychology.”
We just need to think about this. For some reason or another you’re reading this. Only you know why. The question you might wish to ask yourself other than the questions we’ve already posed to this point, is - if pain and its accouterments are cultural artifacts, in either ambition or experience, whose pain is preventing me from no pain at all?
Does that even make sense?
“No Pain No Gain," we agree, "is simply, like all pain narratives, just that, a cultural narrative,” writes another author on the subject.
Psychoanalyst Carl Jung observed that “the foundation of all mental illness is the avoidance of true suffering.”
As much as we like Jung, we are not sure we like that. Perhaps he meant something else. Maybe that's something we should talk about in person. Join us.