I really want to be happy! Don’t I? Then why do I find myself doing things that others want but that I don’t want? Why do I keep hurting myself doing things and reaching for goals that ceased to bring me pleasure long ago?
Do I really want to be happy? I do! But I also want fulfillment, and my mid-Western Baptist upbringing has told me all my life that there is no gain without pain. The way my brain extrapolates this is: the more pain, the greater gain.
Of course that extrapolation isn’t true. If it were true, then self-harm would be a virtue. And I don’t believe that. Yet I still find myself unconsciously expecting – and feeling satisfied with – experiencing pain for emotional and spiritual gain. It’s very true that we sometimes need to go through hard times to gain something valuable to us. Building our own business, having a baby, running a marathon. But not always. And not necessarily.
I’ve discovered that when I find myself making things more difficult than they need to be, it’s really because I’m scared that if I don’t add the pain, it will come on its own in a way that I can’t control. So in some form of magical thinking, I deliberately add the pain component – as insurance.
The key to changing that magical thinking is awareness, then changing it bit by bit, tiny step after tiny step, so that one day I wake up to a day that is effortlessly happy.
It does take time and it works.
Why we need pain to feel happiness
Quote of the Week
“The marks humans leave are too often scars.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
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