The pain of learning

When is pain bad, when is it good?

Yesterday 'the adults' (Euan and I) both went for a run.  It was one of our usual circuits, and we went one after the other (the kids were home), and timed ourselves to see who was fastest.
We are both very competitive, and so both wanted to be faster than the other.  I pushed myself hard, and in doing so, thought about our kids, and how much they push themselves when things get tough.
I know I had a stitch, my legs hurt and my breathing was getting harder, but even though there was pain, I know what my body can do, and I pushed through it.

This must be a hard thing to learn - what pain is good and what is bad.  What can you push through, and when should you stop?

I remember when our youngest daughter moved up a level in swimming a year or so ago.  She moved from a 30 minute class where they just learned the strokes, and never swam more than about 10 metres, into a 45 minute class, where they were swimming lengths of the pool for most of the lesson - up to 50 metres in one go.  Now this was a big jump, and our daughter did find it tough.  She is very determined though, and 'trained' all week in our pool at home, swimming laps to prepare for the class again.  Within a couple of weeks she was coping fine. 
In this case, her desire to be in the next level (with her older sister) was enough to get her to push through the pain of being tired, and having sore muscles at working them harder than she ever had before in the pool.

Pain makes us stronger

I suppose then, that we learn by experience, but we need the motivation to push ourselves. We need a reason to go through that pain and hurt.

Every challenge we face - be it mental or physical, makes us stronger and we learn from it.  From pushing shaped blocks through shaped holes as a baby/toddler - to exams at school, everything teaches us how to do something better, and not to give up.
The more we fail, the more we learn, and so long as we keep on getting up and trying again, we will continue to grow.

I admire determination - and believe it is one of the greatest qualities in a person.  To not give up when you continually fail, fall down in front of your friends, get laughed at, lose the game, get the answer wrong - whatever.  To be able to push through the pain of failing, losing, struggling, makes you overall, a stronger person.

Recently I learned of work done by Ilya Prigogine - a nobel prize winner in chemistry in 1977, who believed that stress was a factor in growth of intelligence.  I liked this particular quote:

"We grow in direct proportion to the amount of chaos we can sustain and dissipate"

Growth is a result of learning new things, gaining new experiences, and going through pain.
We must constantly challenge ourselves to continue growing.
Try something new, create new pathways in your brain, broaden your horizons. 

Try something new

Here's an example of a fun new thing we tried with our daughters over the recent summer holidays:
Wipeout at the local swimming pool:
All you had to do was clamber across, over and under the obstacles on this course to get to the slide at the end.  Some kids got it straight away, and basically never fell off.  Larger kids and adults (like me) struggled, falling off endlessly, getting laughed at, having water up my nose, and generally not being much good at it!  Still I persisted, along with many others, and eventually made it to the end.

It's satisfying to know I can still learn something new.  It was good for my kids to see me try something over and over again until I finally got it! (they were amongst those who could do it almost immediately and almost never fell off!) 
It is important to lead by example - and in doing so, we can help not only our kids improve themselves, but also improve our own bodies and minds too. 

We should never stop learning, always keep our mind and bodies active, and most of all, find the fun in things like kids do!
Never give up - and push through the pain!

What 'pain' have you or your children pushed through to learn something new or improve on something?


  1. Good article and something many of us could probably adapt more in our lives--pushing ourselves a little further to succeed.

    I'm a new follower from the I<3 blogging blog hop. Hope you'll follow me back. :)

  2. That's such a good idea!! My kids would love one of those in the pool!! :)

    I'm a new follower from the Thursday hop! I'd love for you to come visit me over at! Have a great evening!


  3. this looks so awesome! how fun and safe. I would love to try this out one day. thanks for stopping by. following you back.

  4. great post! and that looks like so much fun! I would do that in a heartbeat, and my kids would love it, too.

    Right now my kids are learning about the pain of loss. The past 10 months I have lost two pregnancies at the 10 and 11 week mark, and my children are learning that loss is a part of life. They have seen me and their father mourn, but yet are learning through us that it's possible to have sadness but yet smile and laugh at the same time. I hope I am giving them the example that although life doesn't always go the way you'd like it to, there is still a lot to be grateful for and many reasons to continue smiling.

    I am a new follower -- and I found your blog on the blog hop at Design It Chic. Have a wonderful weekend :)


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