I’m an incessant information junky. I am constantly reading, usually at least 2 books at once, and I regularly scour the internet searching for inspiring blogs, intriguing and inquisitive articles or stories, or anything else of an insightful nature that I can stuff into my head. It’s no wonder I have trouble sleeping most nights considering there is constant stream of information fueling my cognitive musings twisting my mind into a state of mental yoga. (Let’s face it physical yoga is just out of the question for me) It’s as if the world is a buffet of data and I’m in a desperate race to appease an insatiable hunger feeding a gluttonous appetite refusing to be filled. It borders on addiction, (HI…my name is Duane and I’m a learn-oholic) I’m always on the hunt for another hit, another fix and my dad has all too happily assumed the role as my dealer.Recently he loaned into my possession a series of CDs by Tony Robbins which I devoured feverously, spinning them continuously and often repeatedly hoping to attain every last drop of insight from them possible. Predominantly listening to them in my truck in route to where ever and often driving past my destination in an effort to avoid ending the flow of informative transference, I managed to transform my meager Nissan Frontier into a rolling Mecca of knowledge, an automotive temple of inspiration, a mobilized crack house of information.(hey… I am an addict).Over the course of listening to these discs one of the countless lessons learned was that of pain and pleasure. These two simple feelings literally dictate every decisive action we undertake. We subconsciously review and weigh out both sides before we do anything. Before we take on any task we automatically begin to think about how much pleasure we would get from this activity, how much pain we would endure to perform it and even how much pain or pleasure we would get by avoiding the task. It is our ultimate motivator. But in any battle of wills there’s always someone who has the home field advantage. There’s always a ringer. “And in this corner the heavy weight champion of the world is…da dada da!! PAIN!” As sad as it may appear it seems that we are far more motivated to avoid pain than to gain pleasure. We will go to great lengths to get around any kind of discomfort. Think about it. How many times have you kept putting something off that you know you really should do but you know the experience is going to be painful on some level? Now think about this how many times have you finally done something just because putting it off had become more painful than actually doing it? Maybe it’s going to the doctor or the dentist, you really don’t want to go but you’re in so much pain that you’d do anything for relief. Maybe it’s a project at work or at school that you give in to at last because you know it’s due tomorrow and the pain you’d experience from showing up with out it done surpasses anything else. Pain has a unique way of getting us out of our comfort zone, off the couch, and into action.C.S. Lewis drove this point home when he said “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” We will rise to the occasion face our demons and our fears if we feel enough prodding, if we feel enough pain, or if we feel that we would suffer greater pain from not facing the challenges presented. The universe knows this and will often present to us painful situations in order to help us to grow and to expand. I’ve heard it said that struggle is nature’s way of strengthening. I think in a lot of ways it’s true. If we can allow ourselves to become more and more aware of this we can see when change is imminent and necessary. We can view these difficulties as opportunities to move forward, to excel, and most importantly to learn. There’s something better on the other side. “Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5) Sometimes it takes a battle to get a victory and you can be rebuilt, we have the technology, you can be better, faster, stronger. There is a six million dollar man inside you. That’s the real you waiting to emerge. It’s no easy task for a butterfly to break through a cocoon especially after laying dormant for so long but it is that very struggle that gives it the strength to fly facing the world as a new creature.Pain can also be unifying if we allow it. It can cross boundaries and borders we never thought possible and bring the most unlikely of people together. There was no greater sense of patriotism and brotherly love then after the 9/11 attacks. For the first time in a long time we were one. We cried together. We held each other. We were there for one another. We shared each others pain. We are all connected. Some times it takes a tragedy to remind us of that. Mother Teresa said that “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Deepak Chopra agreed when he said “Every object we perceive, every place we find ourselves in, every encounter, every relationship is a symbolic expression of our self.” Learn to see yourself in everyone you meet. See their pain as your own. We are all on this journey together. Saint Anthony of Padua once said “Of what value is learning that does not turn to love?” What you learn along the way and through the pain is of no consequence if you don’t pay it forward. Remember that the struggle is external. Pain does not define you, it’s not who you are but it can help determine who you become.