Find the Gift

Pain is hard on its own, let along the fact that we want (and are expected ) to go about our lives like nothing’s changed.

In the movies, the hero takes a bullet and keeps going. An injury happens, and then cue the montage of the hero training, relearning, getting stronger, faster and better — all set to some motivating music. The hero is the hero because he or she doesn’t let the pain / setback stop them. I haven’t seen any movies where the main character decides to reject the pain and give up, no montage, just 2 hours of laying in bed. There’s plenty of unfortunate people out there who have refused to accept their reality, live life by going through the motions, and give up their heroic story. I’ve been there before, Perhaps you have too.

By refusing our pain, we prolong the pain.

Where’s my montage? Where’s my mentor that steps out of the shadows to help? Where’s the cut-to bass bumping music as I workout shirtless in the streets?

It’s not there. Well, it is, but I haven’t decided to choose it yet.

Our real life, 100% juice montage starts from within.

Improvement, resilience, thriving in change in adversity, starts with a choice to accept the reality and pain we are facing, see it for what it is, what it’s not and what it could be, finding the gift of it all somehow, and taking on the challenge.

I would never wish ill or bad luck on anyone, but oddly enough the misfortune that hits you when you least expect it (usually while you’re already on the ground) is exactly what you need to grow and become a better person, and in so doing inspire and help others through their own pain.

If you know me, you might know that I injured my neck about 4+ years ago. I’ve had some low days — especially in the beginning — where I could barely get myself to move. I refused my reality. And in so doing, the pain controlled me. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to exist like this.

Eventually I came to the conclusion:

No one is going to care more about my own health and wellbeing more than me. Others can care and help, but I care the most, because it’s me. Pain isn’t a solo battle. It’s a journey of constant help, grace and vulnerability. But I’m still the one that has to initiate the journey towards resolution.

If you see me today, you probably wouldn’t even notice I have a chronic injury that I’m healing from, unless I told you.

Random strangers don’t know. My dog doesn’t know. People I meet don’t know. They just see me as I am right now. They don’t see my inner journey, nor who I was in the past versus the person I am today.

I’ve spent years training my mind, and finding the gifts in my situations:

  • A desire to learn more about the human body.

  • A greater understanding of body-mechanics.

  • A deeper connection to those who are also in pain.

  • An iron willpower and relentless drive towards success.

I occasionally dip in and out of remembering to look for the gift in any situation. Sometimes I get really low, until I realize I’m focusing on the wrong things, and letting my brain’s thoughts chatter away, holding me back. Then I remember that life is a gift if we let it. Each day is a day towards greater healing and freedom. I know that I can heal and find meaning in any circumstance. And I also know that if my neck is never the same again (or better) that’s okay too — there’s a gift there too.

I also know that you can find healing and meaning in your own pain as well.


Accept where you are.

Find the gift inside your pain.

Focus only on the day in front of you.

See yourself as a new person, a clean slate, someone on their way towards a better version each day.

If you do, your montage will be better than the movies, and your story will be legend. (Kind of a cheese-ball way to end this post, but it’ll do.)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

Josh Waggoner