No pain = No joy?
We’ve all heard the expression, “no pain, no gain,” right? Well, this could be more true than we realize. Sometimes we need to make a little sacrifice to know true joy.
In Rethink Happy, Camino says, “Loss gives us more pain than pleasure gives us joy.” When we think about this, it’s very true, and there have been countless studies done based on loss aversion.
Angry faces pop out more in a crowd. A single cockroach will completely wreck the appeal of a bowl of cherries, but a cherry will do nothing at all for a bowl of cockroaches.
The sacrifice fly
Well-known marital relations expert John Gottman observed that the long-term success of a relationship depends far more on avoiding the negative than on seeking the positive. “A stable relationship requires good interactions outnumber bad interactions by at least 5 to 1.” -Daniel Khaneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow
So if we’re supposed to avoid the negative, then why do I say we need to experience sacrifice, or pain, to experience true joy? “There can be no progress, no achievement without sacrifice.” -James Allen, As a Man Thinketh
A sacrifice fly in baseball is just that: The batter sacrificing himself in order to bring in a run. He doesn’t get on base, but the result is a run, which is more positive than just getting to first base.
In our relationships at work or home, we have opportunities to do the same. Not to get “out” per se, but to give up something in service to another. Maybe we come home from work exhausted and ready to just sit in the recliner with a cold beverage. But maybe our spouse has experienced an even more trying day.
These situations call for sacrifice, including fortitude and love, to give up our needs for our spouses. Gandhi once said, “Suffering cheerfully endured ceases to be suffering and is transmuted into an ineffable joy.”
By giving up what we think we need, with the right attitude and perspective, we can have greater joy than if we had gone to sit in the chair with our beverage.
The emotional bank account
The following are almost guaranteed to make us sad: focusing only on ourselves, being ungrateful, not being willing to make necessary sacrifices, searching for small self-indulgences and carelessness with one’s relationship with God.
When we make sacrifices we demonstrate love. And giving of our selves lovingly never goes unpaid. If we are attempting to avoid the pain by sacrificing our desires for another, it’s as if we are making a deposit in their “emotional bank account.”
Covey shares about this in his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families. He suggests every positive interaction is a deposit and every criticism or negative interaction is a withdrawal. We can pair that with the 5:1 ratio from before and think of what we can do to make more deposits into our children’s or spouses’ emotional bank accounts.
Who’s on first?
When my wife and I were Family Teachers at Boys Town, our goal was to make this a 7:1 ratio with our at-risk boys. When thinking of others, it’s important to take a look at who we put first.
Our treasure is where our hearts are, so where is our heart? What are our priorities? Do we have a God first, spouse then children and followed by everything else mentality, or do we put our job before all those things?
Either way, sacrifices happen. If I put my job first, I’ll probably decide to stay late at work to finish a project or report rather than making it home to enjoy my son’s baseball game.
Speaking of ball games, I could decide to stop by the bar on my way home to catch the game, along with a drink or two with some buddies, or I could decide to head straight home and spend an evening with my family.
Make a deposit
Sacrificing my leisure time to help my wife or do something with my kids will lead to more authentic joy. The happiness I would gain from my leisure activity is fleeting compared to the joy brought to my family when I make a deposit in their emotional bank accounts.
The thing about joy is, it’s long-term. It’s not something that comes and goes like the weather changes. “Joy is gladness impartial to the things happening in the moment.” Wil Deahl, Crosspoint Fellowship Church.
Any emotional deposit we make is going to have long-term payouts. So this week, what are you putting first in your life, and what can you do to make a deposit in someone’s emotional bank account?
Challenge #9: Commit to making an emotional deposit in someone’s account each day this week. It doesn’t have to be the same person each day. To really make this a challenge, commit to sacrificing one of your own pleasures or desires in order to make each deposit! Let me know how it goes in the comments below!
Who is Doug? Doug Kisgen is an author, entrepreneur and personality expert. His primary work? Raising his five kids with his wife of 20+ years in the hill country of Texas.
For ways to put these ideas into practice, check out Doug’s book, Rethink Happy: An Entrepreneur’s Journey Toward Authentic Joy, available as an e-book now, or pre-order the paperback!