The release of the new painkiller Zohydro has been in the news a lot this year, and for good reason. The United States is responsible for nearly 99% of the world’s hydrocodone consumption and 84% of the world’s oxycodone consumption. We’re a country addicted to pain pills, and it’s time we faced that reality.
As an avid drug experimenter, I’ve known more than my fair share of addicts. I’ve known a lot of good people who went too far in their search to reduce pain and overdosed. Whether physical or mental, pain is very real, and it’s only by confronting it that we’ll ever find relief.
1. “This is only temporary…”
Everything in life is temporary, even life itself. Think of all the things you survived to get here—babies cry for a reason. Our entire lives are essentially defined by how we recover from the trauma of birth. We learn at a very young age that life isn’t fair. We’re helpless and at the mercy of our parents, because they’re bigger than we are.
Through yoga and meditation, I’ve learned to repeat this mantra anytime things get bad. The past already happened, and the future is yet to be. What matters is right now, so let go of any pain over things that aren’t currently happening in your immediate vicinity.
2. Resistance is futile.
Vince Lombardi said it best—no pain, no gain. Pain is necessary to grow stronger, and resisting it isn’t going to make it go away. In fact, resistance saps your energy, so you’ll feel pain in a weaker state.
Rather than wasting your energy, follow the teachings of Buddha and practice nonresistance. Instead of getting angry, feeling sorry for yourself, or tensing up, accept your pain and begin coping with the reality of it. It’s going to happen one way or another, so you may as well have a sense of humor over it.
3. It’s OK to cry.
Pain causes tears, especially emotional pain. If you’ve experienced a loss or are otherwise hurting, cry it out. You’re no less of a man for crying, nor are you an overly emotional woman. Tears don’t make you a child, and even if they did, it wouldn’t be a bad thing. Kids are more honest than adults anyway.
4. Everybody hurts
Everyone experiences pain every day, in one form or another. The more successful someone is, the more pain they’ve experienced. Just because someone is smiling on the surface doesn’t mean they have no pain—it means they’ve learned to cope.
Check out organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project, Special Olympics, and the Catholic Church; each of these organizations deals with pain in a different way, but, Catholic Church aside, they smile through it. Nobody makes it through life pain-free, and you’re no exception.
5. In order to experience joy, you need pain
When experiencing pain, remember it and relish it. If it weren’t for pain, you’d have no pleasure. It’s the downs that make the ups feel good—without them everything’s just flat and blah. When I smile my most genuine smile, it’s never because of all the good things in the world.
My most genuine smile comes from the realization that I’m a survivor. I’ve survived worse than this, and I’ll continue surviving long after today’s pain is gone.
6. Mind over matter
All of these tricks add up to one universal truth. We are the masters of our own destinies and the creators of our own worlds. Joy, pain, wealth, poverty, war, peace, night, day, hot, cold—they all exist simultaneously on this planet. You have the power and freedom to choose your own destiny. Use it.
Pain pills seem like an easy button, but anyone in rehab can tell you an easy button doesn’t exist. Rather than drowning out your problems, confront and embrace them. You’re not going through anything that millions of people throughout history haven’t overcome. I may not know the exact pain you’re experiencing, but someone does. If they can beat it, so can you.
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