AVOID PAIN AT ALL COSTS
We are always chasing this imagined idealistic rainbow of endless happiness, avoiding pain like it’s a COVID hot spot. At some point in history (I uneducatedly predict it to be only within the past 100 years) we all collectively agreed that pain and struggle was something to hide from, to avoid at all costs, and that 24/7, 365 happiness was a true achievable thing that we should all strive for.
Whether it be from mass marketing and advertising, the evolution of the news from an information resource to entertainment media, or from modern day western democratic political promises, or (likely) all of these and more. The idea that a life of pure happiness without any pain has become the expectation.
So a life without struggle is the perfect life. But is it though? Tell me a story from a time that everything went perfectly and it was the greatest time of your life. I bet you can’t. A story of everything going as planned is boring and unmemorable. Now, tell me a story of triumph in your life where the only pathway to get there was adversity, mistakes, failures, lessons and pain. You’ve got shitloads, don’t ya!
If we all get the message beaten into our brains on the daily that pain is something to avoid at all costs, how are we expected to respond to a problem? Or a mistake? Or a failure? I’ll tell you how… we freak the fk out!
“What will they think of me? No one likes a failure, a loser. How am I going to achieve that thing I placed all of my self worth on? It’s doomed! How will I ever reach the holy grail of happiness!?”
What would happen if pain and suffering didn’t have such a stigma? The current western world loves to pretend that ‘Everything is Awesome’ (Lego Movie ) at all times, that the successful just became successful because they’re perfect and talented and innately amazing (and you’re not). We seem to believe enduring a struggle will inevitably end up in failure of this pure happiness dream. We continually forget (or turn our back from) that every single story of success was achieved as a result of massive failure, pain and struggle.
It took Einstein 10 years of sitting in a room and just thinking in order to figure out the theory of relativity. Steve Jobs was forced out of his own company, Apple, in 1985. Only to pick himself up and return 12 years later, turning it into the beast it is today. Muhammad Ali refused to serve in the Vietnam war, leading to the stripping of all his boxing titles, loss of boxing license and near inprisonment. But that didn’t deter him, he managed to return years later to become the most decorated professional boxer of all time.
If we all accepted the truth that adversity often leads to success and triumph, would we think about it and approach it differently when it arises? Instead of the “oh fk oh fk oh fk, this is bad this is bad”, panic and avoidance approach, what if we said “fk yeah, bring it on! I cannot wait to see what happens on the other side of this!”? What if we accepted that pure happiness was unachievable, boring and impossible? If the expectation was that we are meant to endure and that happiness comes as a result of enduring, we could all become a bunch of determined, productive, growth minded, grounded, and at times happy little people.