I have worked out at the gym regularly for 34 years – it sounds impressive when I write that, and you might think that I really enjoy it. Well, yes and no – like most things in life, it’s not that simple. The reality of it is this: working out is hard, and I don’t really like doing it. It hurts to push yourself, and as a result quite often I don’t want to go. But I make myself, and although I might struggle when I get there – I do it. Over time, however, it becomes a habit, as integral a part of my life as eating or sleeping.
You might wonder if it’s so hard, then why do I do it? In the beginning, it was because I wanted to look better and become stronger. I was always one of those guys who was underweight, so the idea of actually building muscle on my skinny frame was intoxicating. But here’s the thing: what I didn’t realize was that all of those years of exercising was like putting money in the bank. As I got older, I became stronger and more fit, to the point where I now must be in the top 1% of fitness for a man of 61. I can do things very few men my age can, and although I am still very thin, I am fairly ripped, having put on about 25 lbs. of muscle over the last three decades. This degree of fitness gives me a big edge as I get older – I just have way more reserve for daily functioning, more energy, and I’m able to recover from illness pretty quickly. There are cognitive benefits as well – being fit just makes everything better.
So I just keep going to the gym, even though there are other things I would rather be doing. One rep at a time, I just keep slogging away. When I’m done, I always feel better…
So what’s the takeaway here? Just this: In order to get the most out of life, we have to make ourselves do the things we don’t want to do. If you want to be better at your job, you have to consciously work to improve. To be a better musician you must practice. If you want to learn you must study. None of these things are fun – but the payoff is worth it.
Embrace the pain and discomfort and know that it will make you a stronger, better person. As an added bonus you might live a longer, richer life as a result.