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.
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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.
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.
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.
The Importance of Pain in Life
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.
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.
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.
Allow Room for the Inevitable Helps You Grow
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?
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).
How Can I Make Life Less Painful?
While time is known to be the best healer, sometimes it requires your side’s efforts. Here are some of the tips to help you make life less painful:
1. Forgive and Forget
When we say forgiving is an important step to make life less painful, we mean you must forgive yourself and others. You might be experiencing pain on account of the deeds or actions of others. However, you cannot move on with your life and get rid of the pain unless you learn to forgive.
“Time doesn’t heal emotional pain, you need to learn how to let go.” ― Roy T. Bennett
While sometimes, you would experience pain in life because of something you did or something you could not. In either case, you need to remember that life is not always simple and that there is no point in letting the self-blame destroy your mental peace.
It might be the past experiences that cause your emotional pain. Unless you realize that the more you cling to the past, the more horrid the pain would become, you will not be able to move on.
Learn to let go, and forgive yourself!
2. Seek Help
While we may think that we can deal with all personal situations ourselves, sometimes we need to keep this ego aside and act wisely.
Some issues are best resolved with the help or guidance of others. We might not always have the answers or solutions to the issues at hand, and therefore it is best to find others who have the solutions.
You need to share what you feel with those you find suitable and comfortable talking to. There is no harm in seeking professional help if you realize that things are spiraling down quickly and hurting you internally.
3. Accept Yourself
People sometimes keep hurting themselves because of the pain caused by something that is not in their control – like their physical and psychological state. Remember that it is the way you were born and that whatever bad predicament you feel you are in, you had no part in dispensing it.
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” ― C.S. Lewis
Everyone is beautiful in their ways. It just takes a proper mindset to see it. Learn to love yourself the way you are and accept your being! It would help relieve yourself from the pain from the past.
4. It’s Ok to Cry
Pain brings grief! It is okay to cry and express the heartache sometimes. But it is not okay to immerse yourself into constant brooding. While you want to acknowledge what you are going through, you need to remember that life must go on.
There is a time to cry, and there is time to laugh! Decide how much time you would want to allocate to grieving. And then dust off the past and move on with a smile on your face.
5. Relax and Breathe
Life is not meant to be understood but lived to the fullest. Relax and stop questioning yourself about your situation. We face numerous circumstances in life and have to deal with them throughout our existence.
Learn to take a deep breath and give yourself some space. You need time to relax and then think straight. It would help you recover from the pain faster and let your move on.
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.
More on Dealing With Difficulties
- 10 Simple Things You Can Do To Get Through Hard Times
- 5 Tips To Stay Positive In Negative Situations
- 6 Challenges in Life You Must Overcome to Become a Better Person
Featured photo credit: Carolina Heza via unsplash.com