The old adage, "no pain, no gain" does not always apply. During a massage, for instance, if I experience pain or discomfort, my body becomes defensive. It locks up to protect itself, tensing and tightening in alarm. I cannot be forced
to relax. Digging and poking at my muscles with ever greater intensity leaves them nothing but sore and uncomfortable. They respond to encouragement rather than demand.
And I don't believe that exercise is supposed to be painful either, and that it doesn't have to hurt in order for gains to be made. Movement and weights can be used in ways that support the highest functioning of a strong body. In my experience, and I have been a personal trainer for fifteen years, the best exercises actually feel
good while they are being performed. The muscles fatigue, but they don't "hurt" per se, and the body enjoys the challenge and the range of motion. Every body has its own kind of feel-good movements, and that's
where strides are made, and where progress happens; not in pushing beyond comfort and then pushing further still.
I am reminded of the story with the sun and the wind, who compete with each other to see who can get a man to take off his coat. The wind tries with all of his might. He blows hard, and harder still, but the man only clutches his jacket tighter around him in response. In the end, it's the gentle, loving sun that wins out.
To me, the message of the story has broad application, far broader than the saying "no pain, no gain." If the forceful urging way we have of approaching things and people is not eliciting the hoped-for, positive result, perhaps we might try a bit of sunshine instead.
I experience more success in all areas of my life when I come at things with gentle encouragement and love instead of brute force.