The Trick is Not Minding That It Hurts

By Greg Baer M.D.

November 26, 2012

In a scene from the movie Lawrence of Arabia, T.E. Lawrence lights a colleague's cigarette, then continues to hold the match as he intently watches it burn down until it is snuffed out by his unmoving finger and thumb. The other man attempts to repeat what he believes to be a clever trick, so he does the same, only to blow it out before the heat from the flame becomes unbearable as it approaches his flesh.

"That damn well hurts!" he shouts, in pain and in surprise that Lawrence had shown no evidence of pain whatever, despite allowing the match to burn out completely.

"Certainly it hurts," replies Lawrence with mystifying calm.

"Well, what's the trick then?" asks the other man.

"The trick, William Potter," Lawrence said, "is not minding that it hurts."

Nearly all of us have been raised in ways that were not entirely healthy emotionally. Actually, most of us were raised in lunatic asylums without the one ingredient—Real Love—we most required for happiness. Tragically, the absence of Real Love is so common that it's accepted as normal, so we continue to pursue unhealthy perspectives, feelings, and behaviors all our lives.

Changing from unhealthy to healthy sounds highly desirable. It is, but that doesn't mean the change will be painless. Take physical health, for example. Changing an unhealthy lifestyle—no exercise and junk food, for example—to a healthy one leads to increased energy and length of life. But making that change—diet, exercise, and more—is rarely comfortable. There are few exceptions to the expression, "Growth is pain."

For most people, their primary motivation is minimizing pain and maximizing pleasure. Regrettably, neither goal is the same as genuine happiness. In fact, the avoidance of pain and obsession with pleasure very often make true happiness impossible.

So what is the solution? We must accept the unavoidability of pain in the process of growth. This is not to say that we should seek pain, only that when it comes, we choose not to stop our progress toward growth. "The trick . . . is not minding that it hurts."

If we can proceed on the path toward growth and genuine happiness, undeterred by the inevitable painful moments, the rewards are infinitely great.

Don't know where to start?

Start here:

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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