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How to train yourself to enjoy the pain?

  • Thread starter torquemada
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  • #1
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Hi,

I've seen several posts/comments here about how wracking your brain on a new concept - especially in mathematics/physics - is painful, but at the same time enjoyable. When I encounter something that is painfully difficult (especially when it's math-related), I feel like throwing the book across the room at times, or giving up quickly. How does one obtain a paradigm shift in their outlook such that one can enjoy the gnashing of teeth that accompanies learning new, difficult things? Is there a good book on this topic, a bunch of quotes, or any strategy to employ? Thanks :)
 

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  • #2
Fredrik
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I doubt it. For me it's just painful until I understand it. Then I feel good about what I've accomplished, and sometimes I'm also able to see a kind of beauty in the proof, or whatever it was that I just finished. But the first moments, when I start reading something that looks like gibberish at first (like most difficult proofs), I also want to throw the book somewhere. I often end up here instead, answering questions.

I guess I should get back to that ******* proof that I'm trying to understand. :smile:
 
  • #3
lisab
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If you have a predisposition to channel your mental frustrations into your body (e.g., throwing a book :smile:), try to have a nice, hard workout before sitting down to study. You'll be much more relaxed and focused once you've worked out the tension.
 
  • #4
MathematicalPhysicist
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If you have a predisposition to channel your mental frustrations into your body (e.g., throwing a book :smile:), try to have a nice, hard workout before sitting down to study. You'll be much more relaxed and focused once you've worked out the tension.
Sexual healing works for me... :-D
 
  • #5
lisab
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Sexual healing works for me... :-D
Whatever it takes :biggrin:!
 
  • #6
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I like to tackle hard problems and concepts in the morning in an isolated well lit place. it's the best. Specially on Saturday mornings, I get up early, even if I stay up really late, eat a good breakfast and then go to the farthest building from my dorm and think.
 
  • #7
chiro
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Hi,

I've seen several posts/comments here about how wracking your brain on a new concept - especially in mathematics/physics - is painful, but at the same time enjoyable. When I encounter something that is painfully difficult (especially when it's math-related), I feel like throwing the book across the room at times, or giving up quickly. How does one obtain a paradigm shift in their outlook such that one can enjoy the gnashing of teeth that accompanies learning new, difficult things? Is there a good book on this topic, a bunch of quotes, or any strategy to employ? Thanks :)
Personally I think its all a mind game. If you don't see failure in some particular endeavor as pain, then your mindset won't see it that way.

The minute you start hating what you do and see everything as a chore is the moment that will probably signal that maybe your heart isn't completely in it.

To a lot of people the reward of learning something and satisfying their curiosity is enough to bear the "pain". Like many projects the vision of the finished product drives many people to stay at it, and the notion of "discipline" is not something that those people really actively think about.
 
  • #8
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I use to feel the same way, and I've felt a lot of frustration with some concepts that seem very simple now, in hindsight. When I started running on my treadmill before I would sit down to study, my ability to concentrate and tackle problems with confidence seemed to be greatly increased. I'm not sure if it's the endorphins, or the increased oxygen flow to the brain, but physical exercise seems to be an intellectual-masochist's best friend.
 
  • #9
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Get another book...
 
  • #10
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Think about why you're doing what you're doing. I love to learn and I want to learn for the rest of my life. Short term, I'd like to go to a good graduate school and study what I want to study. Sometimes you have to jump through some hoops, but if you want it badly enough and you also remember that you're learning tons of the most interesting stuff on the planet you should be okay.
 
  • #11
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You have to use your inner competitiveness and pride against the problem.

"no homework problem is going to best me." (when doing homework)

" no teacher is going to stump me" (when taking and studying for a test)

" no machine is going to defeat me" (for programming)

Etc.
 
  • #12
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err...You can always ask for help after trying hard enough..
Or try easier questions first to get the basics down..

Just to avoid the pain
 
  • #13
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This picture just sums up academic life. Just keep studying and soon you will see the light. The important thing is to not give up no matter how difficult it is.

Academic_Life_by_Ennokni.png
 
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  • #14
chiro
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This picture just kind of sums up academic life. Just keep studying and soon you will see the light. The important thing is to not give up no matter how difficult it is.

Academic_Life_by_Ennokni.png
Very nice :)
 
  • #15
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This picture just sums up academic life. Just keep studying and soon you will see the light. The important thing is to not give up no matter how difficult it is.

Academic_Life_by_Ennokni.png
the cycle of suffering:biggrin:
 
  • #16
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This picture just sums up academic life. Just keep studying and soon you will see the light. The important thing is to not give up no matter how difficult it is.

Academic_Life_by_Ennokni.png

hahaha damn thats priceless. I felt this exact way doing my latest physics hw.....just a few seconds ago! lol
 
  • #17
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I think what makes the difference is a mixture of one's approach to learning, the actual material at hand, and perseverance. The former is perhaps the most important component. How one goes about learning is what sets many of the greatest minds apart from the rest of the bunch. I personally try to keep this in mind all the time, and in turn, I strive to keep a positive attitude no matter what I'm studying. I always approach studying as something that I want to do -- not something that I have to do. This helps me keep a clear head and make headway in the material. Now of course, this may be easier said than done. I love to read, so in general I'm always up for doing readings (in history, philosophy, literature, science(s), mathematics... Whatever), however there were times where I didn't want to do a trove of exercises from the Italian course, or, worse yet, grind through mindless computational exercises from the Calculus book. Those times I just try and remain focused and just do it.

Another thing that I do to keep any subject interesting is I set out to learn what the material has to offer. Now this may sound like that's what everyone does, but that's hardly the case. Sometimes, when we do an assignment or study we just do it for the sake of doing it. That's very bad; it's a waste of time and effort.

Also, you should keep in mind the purported difficulty of the material. I say purported because something that's easy for you may be hard for someone else. It does play a role though. For one, if the material is difficult, stay calm! This is very important. Lisab suggested a workout if you're prone to temper tantrums -- a wise piece of advice. I'm not ever violently angry, but I can tell you that if I don't wake up early and go for a run or workout, than I don't function as well during the day. I tend to lose focus and get antsy. Also, consider either bouncing ideas off of someone else (preferably someone who is struggling with you), or putting your ideas on a chalk or white board. This helps a lot. I'm not exactly sure why it's psychologically valid, but getting your ideas off paper and onto a board really widens the scope for me. And keep in mind that the harder the material, the greater the satisfaction at the end.

Persaverance has been covered in the previous paragraphs. Just keep going. That's it.

I'm inclined to add this: nobody understands everything. That's just a fact of life. It's the reason why we have specialties in our chosen fields. You ought to strive to understand as much as you can, however don't get hung up on things you aren't comfortable with. Instead, focus on what you like. I know my answer was long-winded, but I felt the topic deserves elaboration. Good luck to you.
 

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