Is Pain Good for You? A Look into a New North American Worldview

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Growing up, there had to be a moment where my parents told me not to touch the hot stove. That reminder was not enough to stop me from doing it. I touched the hot stove, felt the pain of the burn. Then, I ran crying to a parent for comfort and healing. As an adult, if this kind of scenario happened to me again, I would have to learn to deal with the consequences on my own. Out of these scenarios came knowledge and growth. After that moment, I had a healthy respect for the stove (the box that cooketh all things). Did the pain feel good? No, it did not. Did the pain teach me an important lesson? Yes, it did. The stove is just one of many examples where I have felt the physical pain of life. I have also experienced emotional pain through that happens when I wrestle with ideas that I do not agree with. Pain has helped me to figure out what I believe in and whom I trust. Pain is also a strong indicator of growth. If I hit the gym for an hour a day, I will feel pain, but I will also notice the muscle gains that are happening. You can probably relate to the experience that I have shared above.

Pain is something that to some extent we all hate. In modern culture today there is a movement to get away from the things that cause us pain. This is done not through handling the pain, but instead by isolating oneself from the pain. People create security bubbles that stop them from having to encounter the ideas that trigger them. This is all made possible by something called coddling (overprotecting). Greg and John talk about this in their book, The Coddling of the American Mind.

We live in an age where comfort and safety are the main things that we focus on. The problem with all this comfort is that,

We adapt to our new and improved circumstances and then lower the bar for what we count as intolerable levels of discomfort and risk.

This is one of the reasons that people are so easily offended today. People’s worldviews are rapidly changing. The pain that we used to be able to tolerate, we no longer can.

In different article by David Williams, he talks about the shift from a guilt/innocence culture to a pain/pleasure culture and the effect that this has.

In a pain-pleasure worldview, you make decisions based on what feels good to you and what makes you happy. Your identity is as a pleasure seeker and a pain avoider.

We like to avoid everything that causes us pain or challenges the idea that we are right.

In my previous article, I talked about the push to “live your own truth.” This is very real in the pain pleasure world. Yet, “your truth” might trigger someone else, so you have to be careful. This does not sound like freedom to me.

As a Christian and more importantly a disciple of Jesus, I practice spiritual disciplines that lead me to learn and grow. I make mistakes every day. I learn and I grow from those mistakes. When somebody does not agree with me, I don’t shut that person out. I try to understand why they think the way that they do. When I must have an argument, I want it to be done right. At the end of the day, I can agree to disagree on subjects that might trigger some. I try to be informed about what is going on and make decisions based on sound research. I have found that pain is not always bad. Pain is a great motivator for growth. Growth causes us to be strong enough to stand on our own two feet in a world that is constantly changing. There are ways that we can learn to cook on the stove without getting burned.

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