Why people don't take action...

What keeps people from signing up for martial arts? It’s the same reason teenagers seem lazy and the same reason adults get stuck in dead end jobs and bad relationships and never follow their dreams. The reason is a secret, but I’ll tell it to you.

We always hear manly men say, “Pain is life.” They aren’t really wrong. Think about it, if you go work out, you strain your muscles, it’s hard, you grit your teeth and grunt and do the workout. Maybe you run and your lungs burn and your legs ache and you sweat buckets. Maybe you do martial arts, the stretching isn’t easy, the warmups are fun but they are a workout, and then the memorization and play back of movements can be daunting. With all of these things, we have experienced some pain and probably will again tomorrow from the sore muscles.

There is pain when getting a job. You need to get that education, which is a whole other pain, you need to dress nice, get up early, interview, write a nice resume, sell yourself to someone who you hope will like you and give you some money for the work you do. It may be a great job, but no job is 100% fun 100% of the time.

Relationships are tough too. Even the best relationships have arguments and disagreements. You have to give up your time for someone else. You have to show interest in them and the things they are interested in, whether you are interested or not. There will be the pain of compromise, of adjustment or time spent and of heartache.

Going on vacation, traveling and seeing the world is expensive. You have to plan and plan, then spend and spend. Sure, you might see some cool things and experience some great things, but it’s a change from your everyday life and causes unbalance and discomfort. It’s fun, but it still counts as that pain.

You will experience some pain from “taking action”, but there is another choice. You can choose, “Inaction.”

Don’t work out, don’t get an education, don’t get a job, stay away from relationships and whatever you do, don’t go out and experience the world. That’s inaction. But wait, there is pain there too. The pain from inaction is not immediate though. It is slow, chronic and debilitating. It steals away your spirit and strips away joy. One of the first things a counselor will tell a depressed person is to take action and start exercising. We know that depression and inaction are closely related, but the move towards inaction is common. Why? Fear of the pain of failure, and in some cases the fear of success. Because the pain of inaction isn’t immediate, it is often more attractive. The pain of action is right now and if in taking action you risk failing, it can be overwhelming.

I can say, without a doubt, nothing, ever goes as planned. No job is as good as it looks. No education leads exactly to the career you think it will. No workout is going to be easy, and like in martial arts, you learn the most from the mistakes. Not all relationships work and even the ones that do, still have heartache and pain. I can also say, without a doubt, I wouldn’t miss any of those pains. They are the dark spots in life that make the days of sunshine and joy so much better and brighter. They include painful emotions that are precious and delicate and delicious, something to be savored. The best creativity comes from these pains.

But you don’t get to escape pain. You get it now or you get it later.

Even if you try and fail, it’s still better than never trying. The ones who look silly as they learn martial arts are still doing a thousand times better than the ones who never try.  

Like a sculptor chipping away stone to reveal beauty, our pain of taking action chips away our weakness to reveal our best self.

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