I was at the gym yesterday, doing an eternity of crunches, when I thought, I am not very comfortable right now, this makes my back hurt and I don’t really like this. Then I realized, Most of the things that are good for us are uncomfortable in some way: running, making dinner, eating broccoli, avoiding a 2nd (or 5th) brownie, scrubbing toilets, brushing hair, tweezing, doing any kind of math (for me), and putting anyone else’s needs ahead of our own, even for a minute.
Most of our lives are spent feeling uncomfortable. Even if you are exceptionally healthy and in great shape, with no medical conditions or allergies (and most of us aren’t) you still have occasional tummy aches, headaches, tweaked nerves, pulled muscles, neck cramps, pimples, cuts, bruises, etc. And that’s just the physical stuff. We also have the frustrations, disappointments, embarrassments, confusions, and misunderstandings of every day life. Not to mention, the occurrence of intense emotional pain that everyone goes through at some point in their lives.
Pain is so ever-present in our lives, that sometimes our sources of pleasure are not really pleasure at all, but the absence of pain. I remember getting an epidural when I was in labor with Big Girl (the nurse forgot to hook up the bag and it was a one-time dose that wore off before the REAL fun began, but that’s another story) and as soon as the pain was gone I was in heaven. It was just the absence of pain, so I should have just felt normal. But we almost always have pain/discomfort of some form or another, and when it is gone, it’s AMAZING how good we feel!
Pain is a part of life, and even good things sometimes bring us pain (no pain no gain, right?). So our main goal in life should not be the avoidance of all pain. Many things that bring us lasting happiness cause us some kind of discomfort: having children, exercising, eating right, making a marriage work, employment, and giving service to others, just to name a few. Of course we want to avoid pain as much as possible (I loved that epidural while it lasted) but we don’t want to miss out on the joys of life just because there is some discomfort involved. We can just try to soften the painful parts as much as possible.