No Pain, No Gain

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
5 min read

Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th-century German philosopher, had a unique perspective on the relationship between suffering and joy. He believed that the two are deeply intertwined, and that suffering is necessary for attaining satisfaction.

According to Nietzsche, suffering is a natural part of the human experience and should not be avoided or denied. He proposed that by embracing suffering, one could transcend it and ultimately find true joy and fulfillment.

In his magnificent book “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” Nietzsche writes,

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

This maxim means that having a purpose or meaning in one’s life can help one endure suffering and find joy.

Nietzsche also believed that suffering could lead to personal growth and self-overcoming.

He thought one could become stronger and more self-aware by facing and overcoming suffering.

In “Ecce Homo,” Nietzsche writes,

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

This quote expresses his belief that suffering can be a means of personal development, as it allows individuals to learn about themselves and grow stronger in the face of adversity.

Nassim Taleb calls this growth antifragile.

Exercise is time spent in the pain cave, making us stronger.

Additionally, Nietzsche thought that joy and suffering are interconnected in that joy can be found in the overcoming of suffering.

He believed that the greatest joy comes from overcoming tremendous suffering. For example, the thrill of victory after a brutal battle is greater than the joy of an easy win.

In “Zarathustra,” he writes,

“But he who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster.”

Joy and triumph over suffering is not a straightforward victory of good over evil, but the tension provides a personal development of self.

Nietzsche believed that suffering and joy are deeply intertwined and that by embracing suffering, one can transcend it and ultimately find true happiness and fulfillment.

He thought that suffering leads to personal growth and self-overcoming.

It is worth noting that Nietzsche’s philosophy is complex and nuanced; these are just some of the ideas he explored in his work.

Overall his views were about becoming a better human being and promoting self-overcoming, which can lead to finding joy in our life and making us capable of accepting and embracing suffering.

We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.

We must all suffer one of two pains. Every one of us must endure the anguish of regret or the pain of discipline. Discipline weighs ounces, whereas regret weighs tons.

To attain true joy, one must be willing to endure the pain of discipline. Discipline and self-control can be difficult, but ultimately, it leads to a better life.

Regret is a much heavier burden to bear. Regret is the pain of not having taken action or having made a mistake in the past, which can weigh heavily on an individual and prevent them from finding joy in the present.

We all have to endure some form of pain to achieve success, but the choice is whether to suffer the pain of discipline or regret.

By choosing discipline, we can avoid the heavy burden of regret.

Discipline requires effort and dedication, but its effects are relatively minor compared to the heavy weight of regret. Regret can linger and continue to weigh heavily on an individual long after the mistake or action was made, whereas discipline is a short-term pain that can be overcome relatively quickly.

Labor passes quickly, but the fruit of labor endures.
Musonius Rufus

Discipline is challenging but ultimately leads to a better life, and regret is a much heavier burden to bear.

Our choices will sooner or later catch up with us.

Entrepreneurship and the struggle to achieve escape velocity.

Starting a business or becoming an entrepreneur often involves taking risks and facing uncertainty, which can lead to suffering. However, this suffering can also lead to personal growth and the joy of achievement.

For entrepreneurs, the pain of discipline can mean putting in long hours, making difficult decisions, and facing the possibility of failure.

But by enduring this pain and pushing through difficult times, entrepreneurs can ultimately find success and joy in their endeavors.

They also can have a sense of purpose and meaning in their life, the “why,” which helps overcome suffering.

On the other hand, the pain of regret can come in the form of missed opportunities or failed business ventures. Entrepreneurs who do not take risks and avoid suffering may miss out on the potential for success and may live with the regrets of what could have been.

One of the most common regrets are choices we didn’t make and opportunities squandered.

The temporary discomfort of discipline is a small price compared to the weight of long-term regret.

Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.
— Jerzy Gregorek

Life is full of choices, and the choices we make can impact the quality of our lives.

The more difficult choices we make, the easier our lives will become in the long term, and vice versa.

When we make hard choices, we often sacrifice short-term comfort and pleasure for long-term gain.

For example, choosing to go to bed early instead of staying up late to watch TV, studying for an exam instead of going out with friends, or investing in our education and career development instead of spending money on frivolous things.

These hard choices can be challenging at the moment, but they lead to a better life in the long term.

On the other hand, easy choices can bring immediate pleasure and satisfaction, but they can also lead to a hard life in the long term. For example, choosing to spend money on unnecessary things, indulging in harmful habits, or avoiding responsibility and challenging tasks. These easy choices can make our lives harder in the long term, leading to debt, poor health, and lack of progress.

We should strive to become the best version of ourselves, which is challenging.

Making hard choices and facing suffering is necessary to improve oneself and become a strong and self-aware person.

Easy choices can make us weaker and less capable of overcoming difficulties.

The Wilderness Passage is a requirement for everyone; it is not an option.

We might hope to believe we can avoid it by dodging and ducking, and we might succeed for a while. But eventually, the life we didn’t live will catch up with us.

Hard times make strong people,
Strong people make easy times,
Easy times make soft people,
Soft people make hard times.

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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