The Search for Suffering
The sweat pouring from your head begins to sting your eyes, as your legs begin to quiver and fail beneath you. The blisters feel as though you're walking barefoot on beds of glass. As your body screams in agony, begging for you to surrender to the earth below, a grimacing smile erupts upon your face. You've just completed a 20 mile ruck march with thirty pounds on your back. Somehow this torturous journey has brought you much joy.
Sounds a bit sadistic right?
Most people don’t get off pushing their bodies to the limit for fun. It seems unfathomable to believe any human would have the desire to face such adversity, especially over the age of 50 years old.
Yet that’s exactly what I want to experience. Perhaps I'm not the only one.
Why enter the House of Pain?
When we're challenged to the point of being broken, we become mentally stronger. We learn how to be resilient and gain more confidence. This is beneficial to our psyche and life experience. And if it includes a physical component, it also helps our bodies to get stronger. Double win!
The truth is suffering has benefits and gives us a greater appreciation for everything. So we shouldn't work so hard to avoid it.
Humans however, aren't typically wired to run toward danger. It's not normal to go on the search for suffering. Being comfortable is the status quo and our Modus Operandi is avoiding anything that causes pain. There are the exceptions though.
Exercise is a form of modern day torture and people love it.
I absolutely hate running. Not only is it boring and uninspiring, but damn, my knees just can't handle it. Even when I was in basic training and in the best shape of my life, I abhorred the days when we had to run.
The same sentiment goes for stationery biking. Nothing sucks more than the feeling of a five inch seat up your ass. And if you're older person suffering from hemorrhoids, there's no pleasure in riding a Peloton.
It doesn't make any sense to torture ourselves this way but millions of people do it. They will even pay for it.
Just look at the hardcore fanatics who give everything to participate in CrossFit, Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and American Ninja. These brands make millions of dollars from people who are crazy like me, all wanting to subject themselves to some form of misery. Pleasure spiked with pain.
If people weren't getting something from these challenges, no one would be doing them, right?
Involving ourselves in these types of activities might be difficult for our bodies or minds, but it also provides many benefits -- like improving cardiovascular health, feeling better mentally, or simply for bragging rights. This is why it's important for us to look forward to these opportunities and embrace the suck.
Challenging yourself is a good thing.
The search for suffering might not sound as sexy as going on a vision quest, but the rewards can be the same. There is just something spiritual about facing and overcoming adversity. It is edifying to our mind, body, and spirit on levels that can't easily be explained.
Pain is weakness leaving the body.
Every opportunity we have to become stronger should be welcomed with open arms. The challenge might be uncomfortable, unpleasant, or even painful, but it will eventually leave and make us better because of it. Even as we get older and reach the experienced adult status.
That’s why my goal in 2023 and beyond is to search for suffering. I want to challenge myself (and others) to push the boundaries of what we believe is possible so we can continually improve our lives.
I’ll share more in the weeks ahead about exactly how this looks but I’d like to know if you ever feel the same way. Share your thoughts.