“Contentment is containment. Discontent creates change.” – Jed McKenna
Three scary, but true stories:
After retiring from playing, an athlete begins feeling anxious about his future.
Instead of teaching him to journal, meditate, and embrace this exciting new chapter of his life, his doctor prescribes Prozac.
A seven year old is having trouble focusing in class.
Instead of reducing his screen time and cleaning up his diet, his doctor prescribes Adderall.
A young woman is diagnosed with a liver disorder.
Her doctor prescribes the needed medications, but tells her that Diet Coke and processed sugar are “totally fine if they make you feel better.”
Now, please understand:
There is a time and place for pharmaceutical intervention, and it is well above my pay-grade to judge which times and places are appropriate.
So these examples aren’t meant to be a commentary on the healthcare system, but on our attitude towards pain and suffering.
Which is, to put it simply:
Pain = Bad.
Instead of a signal that points to an underlying problem, we treat pain as the problem itself.
Instead of resolving the deeper mis-alignment that is causing our anxiety, we sedate ourselves into forgetting about it.
Instead of clearing our mind so we can focus, we load our system with enough stimulants to launch a projectile.
And instead of listening to the warning signals our body is sending us, we switch the signal off so it doesn’t disturb us.
But what if Pain = Good?
What if pain is our most precise, reliable, and trustworthy guide to spotting problems and updating our behaviour so that those problems become developmental opportunities?
What if the pain of heartbreak generates the wisdom needed to build and sustain a healthy relationship?
What if the pain of poor performance reveals the weaknesses that need to be developed to compete at the next level?
What if the pain of short-term failure fuels the efforts that create long-term success?
And, what if the goal is not to feel better, but to get better at feeling so that we can better navigate our lives?
The practice of leaning into pain will probably never go viral.
But in the game of inner development, pain is one of the most potent power sources for generating true transformation.
Use it well.
P.S. Speaking of transforming pain into growth, here’s how we do this using the practice of meditation.
Just dropped 🙂