“There is no normal life that is free of pain. It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth.” – Mr. Rogers
Everyone wants to be happy. I think that it’s a given for being human and alive. Children want to be happy, teenagers want to be happy, barely adults want to be happy, certified adults want to be happy, long-time adults want to be happy. While we all have this in common, I think it reveals itself differently depending on our current stage of life.
When I was a kid, all it took for me to be happy was ice cream. When I was a teenager, I struggled to be “happy” because I was in a constant battle between wanting to be unique and wanting to fit in. Now, I would classify myself as barely adult, and happiness is no longer equated with ice cream, or fitting in, or a perfect situation or life. Happiness is often found after pain – and that is okay.
There are a few different types of pain. There is a pain that helps you decide how much you are willing to work to reach your goals. I am working with a coach to reach my health goals, and it is painful. It is hard to eat broccoli when I want a brownie. It is hard to go to the gym when I want to watch Netflix or read a book. It is hard to stop eating if I’ve had a bad day. It is hard, but it is necessary. If I am not committed to the pain of the process, I cannot complain about the lack of results. In this case, pain is gain. It is the pain of the process that is leading me toward the goal.
Most pain is not as trivial as missing a few desserts, though. Most pain threatens to eat us alive when we try to sleep at night. The pain that stabs you when you remember the phone call that won’t come. The pain that brings tears to your eyes when you wonder if anything will ever be the same again. The pain that makes you feel alone, uncared for, and unimportant. That pain is real, and it is hard. When you feel this pain it is harder to believe in happiness. On the nights when I ache with this pain, and the mornings when I feel like I can’t get out of bed – it helps me to know that this pain has meaning.
I have learned much more from pain than I have from happiness. I have also learned that there is not always pain, just like there is not always happiness. I hope that while you are wrestling with your problems and your pain you find yourself growing. I hope you find the strength and the community to help you hold on for happiness. I hope you know that you are not alone in your pain.