Seek pain

We can choose to live in a sugar coated happiness bubble pretending everything is always perfectly fine or we can choose to accept that it is alright to have a shit day and feel shit about it too.

The world is now overloaded with well-intentioned and overly enthusiastic happiness gurus who will meme us senseless on social media with positivity. We all now feel obligated to be ecstatically bursting with happiness and the pressure is making us miserable.

The problem with all of this wrapping ourselves up in fluff to avoid any form of pain, suffering or even a mildly ‘not going to plan’ event, is it is impossible to stop the shit. We are more and more becoming unable to cope with even the most minimal setback, such as the milk is out of date code, the seats we wanted at the opera are not available and we’ll have to sit a row further back or there is only oat milk instead of almond and it’s not organic. We are clamouring for certainty to avoid any possible shit happening and inadvertently destroying the very essence that is life.

The most meaningful and magical things in life are uncertain and in order to pursue them, there are sacrifices, pain, suffering, anxiety and shit occurrences. That is why we struggle, fight, care, show passion and put all our energies into them. There is no smooth sailing all the time.

There is a choice though, once we accept shit happens and that it is good, then we can also choose how we react to shit and pain. Chip Conley’s amazing emotional equations summed it up nicely ‘despair = suffering – meaning’. Essentially suffering is bearable when we do meaningful things and thus avoid despair. But meaningful things always involve suffering but actually a whole lot less than meaningless things. They will always end in despair.

Purpose has pain and that is the essence of life. Once everything is wrapped in fluff and nothing ever goes wrong, what is the point? Life without risk and pain has no meaning and no matter how many lines of positivity you snort, you’ll be unhappy. Of course, having a positive mind is essential but without realistic expectations and a willingness to embrace the sacrifices necessary to achieve a joyful life, then it is just window dressing.

Seek pain, learn, get even better and move forward on something that matters and we’ll have a more genuinely joyful and meaningful life rather than more meaningless dopamine-fueled instantly gratifying days of short-lived ‘happiness’.

Meaningful pain

Despite what the latest Instagram post or the happy-clappy gurus on Facebook chant every morning, we can not always be happy, shit happens and always will.

The thing is without meaningful pain we can not and will not suffer enough to learn lessons and to be determined to move forward.

Suffering without meaning equals despair and that can bit be sustained by anyone, but if you’ve read Frankl’s “man search for meaning” you’ll know he survived unimaginable pain and suffering because he had a purpose. The greater the meaning, the lower or even no despair. Chip Conley’s “Emotional Equation” book explains it so well, definitely worth a read.

Happiness is peddled as something we need to strive for as it makes money and often happiness is linked to material consumption, working harder, achieving grades etc.

Of course, happiness is good, but so is pain too, well meaningful pain.