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Why Choosing Pain May Be a Key to a Meaningful Life

Let’s try an experiment to illustrate this coupling. Consider the following activities: Go through the list below and mentally check off those which are uncomfortable for you. Mentally double-check the ones that are meaningful or important to you in some way.

  • Saying no to people, projects and activities when your plate is full.

  • Resolving a conflict with a family member.

  • Listening with an open mind to someone who has a different political view than yours.

  • Waking up early to move your body, even when you are exhausted and it’s dark outside.

  • Staying at an event where you feel socially anxious.

  • Turning down a drink, food, or other substance at a social event when you know you have had enough.

  • Traveling with young kids.

  • Asking for a raise, time off, or to work more from home in the new year.


Any overlap? You aren’t alone.

A meaningful life is not a pain-free life

The more you engage in meaningful activities, the more likely you are to experience discomfort. If you are a parent. you should know this by now. Not only is discomfort associated with purposeful activities like parenting, service work, owning a pet, and social justice, experiencing pain can be pleasurable in its own right. For example, hot yoga, deep tissue massage, eating spicy food, and running long distances can be enjoyable because, according to Bloom, they create contrast, provide a break from self-rumination, and socially signal strength and competence. Pain may also play an important role in our dopamine balance. Anne Lembke, author of Dopamine Nation and chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic, posits that when we hyperstimulate pleasure centers of the brain with dopamine, we end up experiencing more dysphoria. Our brain seeks homeostasis by upping our pain to balance out too much pleasure. Taking a “dopamine detox” and residing more on the pain side of the equation paradoxically resets our brain to experience pleasure more fully. Click below to read full article in Psychology Today Magazine


https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/striving-thriving/202111/why-choosing-pain-may-be-key-meanin

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