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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

Life Is Pain: Why a Life Without Pain Guarantees True Suffering

Life Is Pain: Why a Life Without Pain Guarantees True Suffering

No one wants to suffer, but it’s generally accepted that life is pain. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains, and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared in the early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people wouldn’t be aware of dangerous situations—what they should or shouldn’t do for survival. The fact that life is pain is ultimately a good thing for all of us, and here’s why.

Why Is Life So Painful?

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

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In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliché, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadness— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on when life is pain.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently, but it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example; anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known life is pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all.

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Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Life is pain, and pain is inevitable, so embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfection; and perfection guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

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Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurt. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry, and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex-boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way instead of seeing things in black and white. 

How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

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While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future when you see that life is pain.

You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Why does life hurt? Hopefully now you realize that physical and emotional pain may not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. It is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future, or at least cope a little more easily when life is pain.

You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things.

The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then, take a deep breath and start learning from that pain.

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More on Dealing With Difficulties

Featured photo credit: Carolina Heza via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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Anna Chui

Anna is the Chief Editor and Content Strategist of Lifehack. She's also a communication expert who shares tips on motivation and relationships.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

20 Invaluable Things Money Can’t Buy

20 Invaluable Things Money Can’t Buy

George Lorimer contends,

“It’s good to have money and all the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things money can’t buy.”

In reality, everyone likes money. It has enough power to determine happy or sad moments for some people. This happens partially because money can trigger your emotions. However, there are many invaluable things money can’t buy.

Money will allow you to experience the luxury of things like a Tesla, an estate, or first-class tickets to anywhere in the world. But, money cannot buy you everything. There are aspects of your life, yourself, relationships, and encounters that forever will be priceless.

So, what are 20 invaluable things money can’t buy?

1. Love

You must have seen this one coming because of how much it is preached throughout life.

Love is a genuine action with beautiful emotions that develops between people who know each other to an extent.

People fall in “love” for different reasons. Love is unconditional and keeps people in connection with each other.

Money may earn you attraction and attention, but love? Not at all.

2. True Friends

Everyone likes to have money because there’s almost no way to survive if we didn’t have a cent or two. And it’s only normal for people to associate themselves with people who are making efforts to make the money.

But sometimes, people are only attracted to what you have and what you can give; not who you are.

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It works just like love. When your money runs low, true friends should remain.

3. Family

We all know that family consists of a father, mother, and children, so let’s consider the individual elements.

A father is only a father as a result of the relationship between him and his child. Can money buy a relationship?

The same concept applies to the mother and child and if a relationship with a father cannot be bought, then neither can one with a mother nor child be bought.

Even if it’s an extended family, you still have to have a relationship with someone who connects you to the other person. It’s not rocket science.

4. Wisdom

Someone defined wisdom as “the mother of knowledge,” and how does one acquire knowledge? He or she receives it from experience.

So, if you cannot buy experience, then you cannot buy knowledge. And if you cannot buy both, then wisdom is definitely out of your league. You have to study, meet people and just experience life to earn it.

5. Happiness

In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt,

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

    Mrs. Roosevelt even acknowledges things money can’t buy. She emphasizes that money can’t buy happiness.

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    Despite all the money a person may have in the bank, he or she still may not have the happiness that we all crave and deserve. Money cannot afford happiness.

    6. Health

    Money can help us afford the best health care services, but health itself? Not exactly.

    We’ve seen millionaires and billionaires lose their lives to a range of diseases that all their money put together could not cure.

    The Dalai Lama said,

    “What surprises me most is ‘man’ because he sacrifices his health to make money then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health.”

      So, besides the fact that it doesn’t buy us health, sometimes the pursuit of it takes good health away from us.

      7. Long life

      During birthdays, we wish people a long, prosperous and healthy life. Money would be the best gift to send to loved ones to buy these things.

      But since you can’t, you wish these individuals the best life has to offer. You may also give them fun and loving experiences without money.

      8. Time

      The universe has been impartial enough to give us all 24 hours to do whatever we want to. But nobody, with all his or her wealth, has been able to purchase an extra hour, not even a second.

      9. Respect

      They say it is reciprocal. In other words, you can only get respect when you give respect and the last time we checked, there was no money for respect.

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      So if you can’t give something in any currency, then you can’t receive it in any currency either.

      10. Character

      Character is the sum of a person’s attitude. Attitude has to do with the way you behave and although money can influence a person’s character, it cannot buy a good one.

      11. Confidence

      Any “confidence” built on money really isn’t confidence. It’s a shade of pride and usually ends in sheer show-off. That, dear friend, is not confidence. Confidence is a quality you build with time.

      12. Beauty

      There are countless beauty products in the market and all of them cost money. These beauty products can only enhance beauty by covering up blemishes and some go as far as altering some features of the body.

      But none has been able to change the natural beauty of anybody. If you consider surgery, then you are still altering the natural features, not changing it. You can’t buy good looks from your mother’s womb. It’s just not possible.

      13. Sense of Humor

      Some individuals are born with the gift to make others laugh. Most of the comedians around became wealthy as a result of their sense of humor.

      The humor did not come after the money. Nobody became funny overnight because of a swell in their bank account.

      14. Trust

      Why do you trust people? Because they’ve proved themselves to be trustworthy by character. Their character earned them that trust.

      15. Talent

      Talent is a natural skill that has to be discovered and honed. Just like beauty and every other thing that comes naturally, talent cannot be purchased.

      16. Purpose

      People attend conferences and seminars to help them discover their purpose in life. These conferences may be free or paid but the money did not buy them the purpose.

      They already had the purpose way before realizing that they needed to find it. Lots of poor people discovered their purpose and leveraged it to become rich. This goes on to illustrate that money can come as a result of finding purpose but it cannot get you the purpose.

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      17. Satisfaction

      If there’s one thing that money can never buy, it is satisfaction. Even if money finds a way to get any of the other items on this list, it can never afford satisfaction. Money increases our desire for more money. The more the money, the more the hunger.

      18. Empathy

      Never have we ever heard of a man who bought the ability to empathize and never would we ever because empathy is a feeling. Feelings cannot be bought.

      19. Peace

      Why do people employ sophisticated security systems? Because they want to have peace when they go to bed but even with all of that, peace has never been received in exchange for money. It comes as a result of a clear conscience and a good heart.

      Ironically, money may bring enemies which would end up disrupting your peace.

      20. A Good Name

      A proverb says “a good name is better than silver.” This is like comparing two different things: a name and silver (which could be referred to as money).

      What is a “name?” It is a form of identity and how is it received? Your way of life and character helps people to receive you.

      Conclusion

        Overall, these things are invaluable and confidently show that money can’t buy everything.

        While this is the case, money is necessary, so don’t quit your job just because it can’t buy you happiness. And do spend your money and time wisely.

        Also, go out of your way to make people happy. Their money can’t provide this needed emotion. Do not lose or mismanage your health trying to get money.

        More About Happiness

        Featured photo credit: Yingchou Han via unsplash.com

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