Pain demands action, and happiness?

Jun 27, 2024

There’s a thing they say about pain – it demands to be felt. That’s because it stings. Just like a bee. And when we are stung, we only focus on fixing the affected part of our body and don’t necessarily care about the other 99.9% functioning part of the body. Which is good, because that is the need of the situation. It is the survivor’s bias. It is urgent. It aches. And we must act now. And that holds true for both physical and mental pain.

And, when nothing is going wrong? I think we tend to feel more happy in fleeting moments of pleasure. That is, whenever something simulating or vivid happens. We end up subconsciously training the brain to respond with "happiness" whenever something vivid like that happens again.

And that is super normal. But the thing with enabling this pattern of the brain is that it is self-limiting in a way. Pleasure simulates, but it also takes something from us. It makes us addicted to dopamine rushes, and leaves happiness to merely be an achievable state. 

Again, there is nothing wrong with pleasure. I have, in fact, lived on the "pleasure principle" my whole life. But happiness? That’s different. Happiness is always present by default. We just have to give it enough room to be felt.

While pain, being stingy in nature, always makes room for itself to demand attention and action, happiness is quite the opposite. It is more at peace, it is more a state of being. And that’s why we tend to forget about its presence. We take it for granted. But that’s also why it is easy to recognize it right now, at this very moment.

The easiest and quickest ways to do that are acceptance and gratitude. It doesn’t have to wait for you to get that dream job or that dream house. It can be felt by being grateful for the tasty food you are going to eat tonight, the breeze of air you’ll feel in your hair while traveling in the evening, or the pretty device you are operating right now. Heck, I have gotten really creative with this. Last night, I was grateful for being born in a democratic country where I have basic rights.

When we practice (not seek) happiness in regular life moments, the quality of life improves. And it makes sense too, because such regular moments are more, well regular! They are all around, at any given moment in time.

And the thing with practicing anything positive is that it multiplies. The more you practice happiness, the more you can give it out subconsciously, and the better environment you can create for yourself and the ones around you. So you don’t really have to wait for a great environment to happen to you, and put conditions on feeling happy. It can be turned into a daily choice, a process.

Happiness doesn’t demand anything, it only gives. It is worth creating a happiness mindset for oneself, and not keep it limited to dopamine-fueled pleasurable moments only. Think about it.