Ray Dalio wrote, "It is a fundamental law of nature that to evolve one has to push one’s limits, which is painful, in order to gain strength..."

I first learnt of Ray Dalio from reading Aaron Swartz's blog. In his Raw Nerve series, Aaron writes about how when you begin to exercise it's somewhat painful but not excruciating. And even though it's painful, you keep doing it and it gets more and more painful. If the only thing you got out of exercise was pain, you probably wouldn't do it anymore. Yet, we do it because we know that in the long run that same pain will make us stronger and we will be able to handle much more before reaching the next level of pain.

Having this knowledge is what would help me get up each morning even when I really didn't want to. These days I find that much more difficult, but I still try because I know that every time I'm really scared and stressed out (which happens a lot with me even when things are really good), and things go really bad  it's just a short while until everything gets better than it's ever been.

Some examples:

  • A few years ago when I had nothing and went for four days without food, I ended up with a 90% salary increase.
  • Last year I was homeless for a bit, I ended up living in one of the best places I've ever lived.
  • A few years ago someone crashed into me at an intersection, I bought a much better car after a few months.
  • Last year I crashed my car, I got my first ever brand new car.
  • I quit my job, I started my own business and worked with some really cool people.
  • I'm about to quit my business and I will build something much bigger and provide lots of value to people once I've had a chance to give my body and mind a rest.

Many people make the mistake of avoiding or postponing pain (myself included, tonight I just realised I did it again). Instead, we should enjoy those special moments of pain because it's what makes you a better and stronger person. Next time you feel pain don't run away from it, instead lean into it. Do what hurts more often and it will be easier and less painful. The world will no longer seem scary, instead you will see it as being full of adventures.

Next time your mind tries to make you flee from a scary situation. Just ignore it, lean into the pain. You won't regret it.