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A New Perspective

reframe your painEveryday I wake up in pain. My life is fantastic.

I’m not being sarcastic either. Life is a gift in and of itself, and being human is a fantastic experience. The challenges, the setbacks, the ups and downs all combine to make for an interesting and enjoyable life experience. Life is a beautiful dance between pleasure and pain, a mystery shrouded in duality as plain as day, yet as dark as night. It’s only because of the challenges in life that we can enjoy our triumphs. Ugliness is what makes beauty for without it we’d have nothing to compare.

Without pain, we’d know not pleasure and life would be boring and mundane.

Reframe It

Everyday is a struggle. I’m enjoying the challenges of life.

Which sentence identifies the way you think? Do you wake up in pain and proclaim the day a struggle, getting out of bed to fulfill your prophecy and struggle through the day? Or do you wake up happy to be alive, ready to take on any challenge thrown your way with the zeal of a kindergartener?

If you’re “normal,” then you view your challenges as struggles and wish you didn’t have to go through them. Without challenges, how would we grow?

It’s the challenges that give us so much joy. Overcoming a big challenge is one of the richest experiences you can have.

There’s no better feeling to a human being than solving a problem. We love it, whether we want to admit it or not. It’s why we’re here on this earth and why we have these big alien sized heads. We’re problem solvers.

Take a look at the device you’re using to read this article. You’re looking at a device that represents hundreds of problems solved. The microchip, an invention that was largely overlooked, winded up being one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century (1). It was invented to solve a problem, as with all inventions. Solving these problems is why we live in houses and not a borough. But even a borough represents a problem solved.

As humans, we have an insatiable appetite for problem solving when it’s external, but sometimes we like to play the victim with internal problems like chronic pain.

Being in pain all the time sucks, this I know. But it’s still a problem/challenge that needs solving and it starts with how you look at it.

The Greatest Challenge

you can do itTrying to figure out how to live a normal life while dealing with debilitating pain has been the greatest challenge of my life. I didn’t always look at it like a challenge. At one point, I looked at it like a curse bestowed upon me or bad luck. neither of these views are healthy because it is a powerless view of myself. Even if it was a curse, wouldn’t it be healthier to take an empowering stance?

To empower yourself, all you have to do is accept responsibility for how you interpret and deal with your challenges. You can say, “my life sucks, other people are lucky, and nobody understands me”. Or you can say, “I’m grateful to have the cognitive ability to think about myself abstractly, ponder, and solve problems.”

That is our greatest power as humans. We can think about our future in grave detail but other animals can’t think about where they want to be a year from now. They’re stuck right where they are, looking to put some food in their belly and continue the routine that has led to their survival. They can’t think abstractly about themselves and change a thing.

By taking the road less traveled, we can put ourselves in a position to improve our lives. There are remedies to nearly all conditions that will, at the least, provide you with some sort of temporary relief so you can enjoy each day. The amount of information readily available online and in books is startling. Once you take the empowering stance, you’ll find yourself consuming loads of information and reading like your life’s dependent on it (because it is).

The stories from people who have found meaning and happiness despite having horrific and debilitating situations will both motivate and inspire you on your search for purpose. Anyone who feels they’ve been slighted in the game of life should read Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It’ll help you gain perspective and to look at your challenges differently.

Waking Up In Pain

me in morningWaking up each and every day is a blessing, but for some of us it can feel more like a curse. I fully acknowledge that waking up is awesome and I wouldn’t want the opposite to happen; to never wake up again. It’s just that getting out of the bed is one of the most difficult tasks for someone who is in pain.

In the morning, I feel like a zombie who desperately wants to feel like a human again. I lay in bed for an extra 20 minutes or so, half awake. Being wrapped in the sheet feels somewhat comforting. Eventually, I muster up the courage to drag myself out of the bed, feeling 50 lbs heavier. My body is like a block of lead in the morning except for my skin. It feels fragile and delicate. The air from the fan and air conditioner slam into my skin, causing me to feel irritable and uncomfortable. I quickly turn the fan off, wishing the AC would turn off with it.

In this lowly state, I proceed to lumber into the bathroom where I hurry to relieve myself. Do I wash my hands? No way. No time for niceties and unnecessary tasks. The only thing on my mind is getting some sort of pain relief.

rough morning

Img Cred: Andrew Dickman


Relief is Near

I make my way back to my room to get ready for the day. First on my agenda, pain relief. This is where I’ve made the most progress in my life. Pain relief used to be a love hate relationship with opiates. I loved that they were good at managing my pain, but hated the side effects.

The side effects were terrible so I’ll spare you of the details. You can learn more about the side effects here. That’s the worst part about them, and the dependency issues. You become tolerant fast and dependent even faster. It’s a nasty game which is why I’m glad to have graduated to natural forms of relief.

After using a combination of natural creams and oils, I’m feeling pretty groovy. The pain has subsided completely or to a manageable level. Life can go on as usual. It’s the first 15 minutes of every day that presents the biggest challenge. You never get used to it and feel the resistance to getting your day started every time you wake up but eventually you will build the mental muscle to consistently push through the morning pains.

What Helps Me

i made itIt always helps to get out of bed as soon as I wake up. The longer I lay in the bed, the more momentum I build towards laying in there all day, which can happen. It used to happen a lot, but I’ve gotten past that phase. I think I was depressed or something. If you wake up 15 minutes or even 30 minutes before your alarm, get up.

If you go back to sleep, you’ll feel groggier when your alarm goes off. You can spend the extra 15 minutes reading a good book or watching TV. If you remember anything from this post, remember to get your butt out of the bed as soon as you wake up. Get your body in motion and proceed to conquer every obstacle in your way and have an awesome day.