No one wants to suffer, but it is widely accepted that life is a painful experience. People, on the whole, prefer to avoid pain and suffering as much as possible. Humans, as a species, desire a painless existence so much that scientists make a living by attempting to create it.
People can now choose “pain-free” labor for their babies, and remedies for back pain, headaches, body aches, and even mental pains are plentiful. Aside from medicine, we work hard to feel as little pain as possible, even when it comes to loss; we often believe that a breakup will be less painful if we are the ones to call it off.
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But, is a world without pain truly painless? It's highly unlikely. In fact, it would most likely be painful for that very reason.
People would not understand what hurt was if they had never felt it. On the surface, this appears to be a blessing, but consider this: how would we know peace if we didn't know pain? How would you know you need to heal if you don't know you've hurt or been hurt? Consider someone who only discovers they have an incurable cancer in its final stages because no obvious symptoms appear in the early stages.
People would not be aware of dangerous situations—what they should or should not do for survival—if they did not feel pain. The fact that life is painful is ultimately beneficial to all of us, and here's why.
Why Is Life So Exhausting?
Pain serves to protect humans from potentially harmful actions. It's the same reason parents teach their children that fire equals hot and hot equals hurt. If the baby still puts its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain is so vivid that the child is unlikely to repeat the action.
Similarly, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning sign that something is wrong. Because you know what it's like to feel “well,” you also know what it's like to feel “bad.”
Pain, in addition to teaching you what not to do, teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.
While the cliche “What doesn't kill you makes you stronger” is overused, it's for a good reason: it's true. Pain teaches you how to cope with life's inevitable difficulties and sadness—it gives you the grit you need to push past adversity and keep going when life is painful.
Pain affects everyone differently, whether it's a shattering pain like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, but it still affects everyone. Consider a breakup; anyone who has been through one knows how physically painful it can be. It feels like the loss of the only love you'll ever know when you're young. With each ended relationship, you realize you're more resilient as you grow and learn.
There is no happiness if there is no pain
You can only know happiness if you've experienced pain in your life. While the idea of constant happiness sounds appealing, it is unlikely to be realized. There is no reason to be grateful for it unless it is compared to happiness. That is to say, if you have never experienced sadness or pain, you have no reason to be grateful for happiness.
In reality, there is always something missing or unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you learn to be grateful when you believe you have everything.
Learn more about why happiness and pain must coexist: Pursuing Happiness Will Not Make You Happy
Researchers discovered that one of the things that brings the most happiness is challenge, which may seem counter-intuitive. When people are put to the test, they feel a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they succeed. It is for this reason that low-income people are often happier than those who have a sense of wealth.
This is something to keep in mind the next time you think you'd be happier if you just had a little more money.
Avoiding pain causes more pain
Life is full of pain, and pain is unavoidable, so embrace it with open arms. Anyone who strives for a pain-free life is aiming for perfection, and perfection guarantees sadness because nothing is ever perfect.
This is not a pessimistic view, but rather a realistic one. Life's messed-up moments tend to produce the best memories and feelings of gratitude. Pain, like physical scars on the body, can serve as a reminder of lessons learned.
Pain will always be painful, but it is the hurt feelings that help us make better decisions.
Allow for the Unavoidable
Learning to tolerate pain, particularly emotional pain, is a valuable lesson.
Accepting and experiencing pain is what makes you human. There is no flaw in that. Weakness arises when you attempt to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to relieve your pain. There's an old adage that goes,
“Holding onto anger is akin to drinking poison and expecting your adversary to die.”
Consider the last time you were truly enraged with someone. Perhaps you were hurt because you were laid off from your job. You were angry, and your anger caused you so much pain that you could feel it physically. Being angry and blaming your ex-boss for your pain had no effect on him or her; you were the only one who lost sleep over it.
In such a situation, it is healthier to acknowledge your pain as well as your anger. Instead of seeing things in black and white, accept it and explore it introspectively.
How can you grow and learn? What is the source of that agony? Are you truly hurting and angry because you were laid off, or is the pain related to you feeling like you failed?
While uncomfortable, exploring your pain can help you become more self-aware. By learning more about yourself, you will be able to deal with similar situations in the future when you realize that life is painful.
You will never be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for job loss and be grateful for an income because you now know nothing is guaranteed (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).
Pain is unpleasant, but numbness would be even more so
Why is life so painful? Hopefully, you've realized that while physical and emotional pain are unpleasant, they can also help you learn and grow. It makes life's sweet moments even sweeter and gratitude more genuine.
To live a happier and more successful life, you must learn through pain and failure, not through success or accomplishment. It is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future, or at the very least how to cope a little better when life is painful.
You are the strong person you are today as a result of the difficulties that life has thrown at you. While you may have felt out of control when those difficult times arrived, the one thing you will always have control over is how you respond to them.
When you are hurt, angry, or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate on it. Then, take a deep breath and begin to learn from your pain.
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How to Feel Alive: When it comes to a life well lived, you often hear people say 'you only live once' and while that's true, it's also important to make the most of your life while you're living it. By taking on new challenges and learning new things, you're preparing yourself to be active and feeling alive in your old age! You can do this right now by taking some time to plan some new activities and experiences for yourself. Here's a list of ways you can start feeling alive today: Read more.
You have heard it all before: "Live life to the fullest", "follow your dreams", "be who you are" and "if it is meant to be, it will be". These are all wonderful quotes that are meant to help you live a happy life but they miss the point. Our lives are interconnected with each other and with the world.
No matter how hard you think you try, there’s always going to be a certain level of stress in your life. And when stress gets out of hand, it can start to negatively affect your life. But this doesn’t have to be the case. There are some easy steps you can take to improve your life in the long run, and we’ve found a few that can help you enjoy a better life and get rid of stress.