Life Fitness

The benefits of exercise are well-documented, but they tend to focus on the physical. Exercise can also help you with problems in life. It's a "keystone" habit that makes a difference in so much more than your waist line.

The often overlooked but perhaps most powerful thing it does is teach you to be uncomfortable, to confront pain. In How Exercise Shapes You, Far Beyond the Gym, Brad Stulberg breaks it down. 

In a world where comfort is king, arduous physical activity provides a rare opportunity to practice suffering.


It’s hard to know what to do about this except to acknowledge that diversity isn’t easy. It’s uncomfortable. It can make people feel threatened. “We promote diversity. We believe in diversity. But diversity is hard,” Sophie Trawalter, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, told me.

That very difficulty, though, may be why diversity is so good for us. “The pain associated with diversity can be thought of as the pain of exercise,” Katherine Phillips, a senior vice dean at Columbia Business School, writes. “You have to push yourself to grow your muscles.”

~ What Biracial People Know

First Do No Harm

I've never been able to quite articulate this experience I walk around with but I suspect anyone who has lived with trauma might understand it. I have many emotions and at the same time I'm very sensitive to the pain of others. I don't want to impose or somehow make their pain worse so I tend to hide my feelings. As a result, I've struggled with this notion - how can I be the full expression of myself without causing harm? This from the Israeli author Etgar Keret's interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air offers insight:

GROSS: Since your father survived the Holocaust literally in a hole and your mother managed to survive in the Warsaw Ghetto - although her parents did not - when you were growing up as their child, did you think that you weren't allowed to experience pain or sadness because your sadness, your pain couldn't compare? It was like nothing compared to what they experienced as children.

KERET: Well, I felt that I was allowed to experience. But I made an extra effort to hide it from my parents, you know? I think that by reflex I felt that - you know, that they had suffered so much that the least I could do would be not to add to the pain that they've experienced in their lifetime. And I think that there's something about these attitudes - that it also kind of pushed me toward writing because what happened was I kind of had this very strong superego that - you know, it started with my parents. But it continued with the entire society - that I was always very much aware of what people wanted of me. And I didn't want to make them feel unhappy.

But at the same time, there was kind of a very strong id under it that wanted all kind of things that I couldn't express. And fiction suddenly became this place where I could write about all my desires, but nobody would have to pay a price for it. Nobody would be unhappy if I would eat five desserts or punch the people who deserved punching or kiss the people who deserved to be kissed, you know? So there was something very liberating about it, you know? Fiction became this kind of, like, padded cell where I could run and hit my head against the wall without kind of causing any harm - not to the wall and neither to my head.



So Funny It Hurts

Along with the charisma and the extreme winsomeness, Rudd is uncommonly good at embodying what nonactors spend all their energy trying to conceal: every category of pain, from the glancing to the trenchant. This is a talent with sweeping applications. It is funny in broad comedies, biting in prickly indies, germane in anything romantic. It is charming in real life. You could argue that a 46-year-old actor choosing to play an antlike creature is a study in the entertainment possibilities of pain. What’s more emasculating, as a class of metamorphosis, than miniaturization?

‘‘Pain’’ is obviously too dire a word to describe Rudd’s 2 percent milk face-plant. But it was still a useful demonstration, especially when you think about how invisibly most people respond when they’re uncomfortable (by freezing up, gritting their teeth). Inventive expressiveness (of vulnerability, of suffering) is so rare. It’s what makes certain people enchantingly sympathetic and certain characters relatable.

~ How Does Paul Rudd Work?

It's All in Your Head

Inspired by a Stanford Law symposium, Stanford researchers are developing a tool to more objectively measure pain. Self-reporting of pain is very subjective and can make diagnosis difficult and there are a number of legal issues surrounding the presence of pain or not. The tool uses brain activity to measure pain. The researchers hope to be able to eventually distinguish between pain and emotions like anxiety.