Do not hold on to well-being for too long

“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” “That which does not kill us makes us stronger” – two over-used and almost clichéd quotes from Friedrich Nietzsche. In weight training they find their counterpart in the famous motto “no pain, no gain”, which is likewise a hackneyed maxim, although a bit younger.

The line of thinking, which is nevertheless relevant to discuss, may in any case seem a bit contradictory in terms of wellness and fitness, which are – the former in particular – primarily related to well-being. In classic Greek thinking, concepts such as ataraxia and eudaimonia may be roughly translated into happiness and tranquillity, and these intimately related Epicurean and Aristotelian modes may perhaps find their late modern equivalents in for example the effects of having a healthy diet and a fairly low percentage of body fat, in conjunction with lack of illness and a series of good night’s sleep.

But the thing is that feelings of well-being are only partial and temporal states of both body and mind (which of course are closely interrelated and actually non-separable both from a philosophic and scientific point of view), and not just in the general sense that we age and eventually die. Weight training, and/or other forms of physical conduct, combined with a proper diet, may both directly and indirectly lead to a lot of benefits, including an overall sense of well-being. But to even get to those provisional states, one needs to experience almost the opposite of well-being, that is, to endure some amount or degree of pain. Not pain in the destructive sense, like the kind one experiences when being injured, but of the constructive type. A large portion of daily exercise should in fact be based on this particular constructive pain.

Hence, if you feel too good about yourself for too long, and strive to constantly reach and preserve that perceived positive mind-body state, you are probably on the wrong path and need to redirect your inner sensation into the lands of exertion and constructive pain. Because to suffer a little, although in the proper sense, is a constant and integral part of developing one’s physical and intellectual faculties. In fact, some may even find certain books more painful than exhausting leg training. Perhaps because the very same persons are used to train hard but not to study hard (or vice versa).

Therefore: always put yourself to new tests, both physically and intellectually, and do not let well-being make you passive.