How I Learned To Love Running

In the leadership development course, Creating Lasting Change, Tony Robbins describes 4 classes of experience:

Class 1 Experience:

  • Feels good
  • Is good for you
  • Is good for others
  • Serves the greater good

Example: Doing meditation that helps you be more calm, focused, and productive throughout the day.

Class 2 Experience:

  • Doesn't feel good
  • Is good for you
  • Is good for others
  • Serves the greater good

Example: Giving a motivational speech to students in need even though you have a fear of public speaking.

Class 3 Experience:

  • Feels good
  • Isn't good for you
  • Isn't good for others
  • Doesn't serve the greater good

Example: Doing hard drugs might make you feel temporarily good, but it has a negative impact on yours and other people's lives.

Class 4 Experience:

  • Doesn't feel good
  • Isn't good for you
  • Isn't good for others
  • Doesn't serve the greater good

Example: Regularly looking in the mirror and calling yourself fat, ugly, dumb, etc.

Tony describes how growth happens when we engage in Class 2 experiences, but we often try to avoid them because they don't feel good. Being temporarily uncomfortable leads to long-term success and fulfillment if we can stick with the Class 2 experiences until the payoff occurs.

Then, to move toward more fulfillment in our lives, we want to convert Class 2 experiences into Class 1 experiences. Here's an example from a recent discovery I made:

Running has been a Class 2 experience for me for a long time. I like the health benefits of running, and I enjoy being outside, but running itself doesn't usually "feel good" to me.

For a long time, I thought this was the price I had to pay for being in shape. I tried running with other people. I tried running different distances. I tried different routes. But I always felt mildly dejected after running, even though I knew it was good for me and helped me better serve others through increased fitness and energy levels.

I told myself that the intrinsic benefits of running were enough and that I should be satisfied with the increased health, being in nature, listening to good music, etc.

But what I finally realized last month was that I hadn't been incentivizing myself properly.

I was looking at running as something that I "had to do" rather than turning the experience into something I really wanted to do.

So, ironically, I started listening to Tony Robbins' programs while running.

This decision immediately converted my Class 2 experience of running into a Class 1 experience. Now I love running and always go on the longer run option because it means I get to listen to more of Robbins' inspiring and educational leadership development programs.

You see, I wasn't giving myself a short-term reward that I really wanted. And the key to creating a positive habit is to provide immediate and significant rewards. So now, rather than begrudgingly running because I know "it's good for me," I eagerly go running so I can listen to Tony Robbins without felling guilty about not using my time productively.

I would have a hard time giving myself permission to sit in my office and listen to an hour of Tony Robbins twice a week. But going on an hour run is a great way to maximize both my time and my enjoyment of the experience.

So if you have Class 2 experiences in your life that don't feel good but are good for you and others, I would encourage you to amp up those rewards! Don't feel like you have to suffer through it; get creative with how to provide short-term rewards to make the experience enjoyable.

This may feel counter-intuitive to the "suffering builds character" mantra, but I think we already experience enough suffering in our lives without willfully inflicting more on ourselves. And if we actively incentivize those positive behaviors in our life, our quality of living will dramatically improve.

Do you have any Class 2 experiences in your life that you'd like to convert to Class 1? I'd love to hear about them in the comments section!