Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid joy.
Most of us either believe that pain and misery are synonymous, or have a cause-and-result relation at the very least. We spend our lives deeming it absolutely normal to feel miserable after a painful experience. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.
While pain and misery are two interconnected feelings, they do not necessarily have to accompany each other. For starters, pain is an indispensable part of life; misery isn’t. Pain represents the challenges that life throws at us; misery stands for how we react to them. Pain is external; misery is internal.
No person in this world is immune to disease, suffering, and hardships. Yet, the degree of suffering varies considerably from one person to another. It isn’t uncommon to see the greatest misfortune leave one person untroubled, while the slightest inconvenience disturbs another. Doesn’t this imply that misery is something manageable and not a necessary outcome of pain?
Following a distressing experience, we can either feel sorry for ourselves and make matters all the more difficult for ourselves. Or, we can simply accept the setback as part and parcel of life, pull ourselves back up, and soldier on. The more we let our sufferings bog us down, the harder it will get for us to focus on the things that really matter in life.
The first step in this direction is to accept that pain is unavoidable. No matter how hard one tries, it is very difficult, nay impossible to control all variables. In fact, something or the other can and almost certainly will go wrong. This should be no reason for us to give up on our goals or life in general. If anything, we should use this as motivation to succeed despite every hardship.
Tim Hansel was a motivational speaker. The founder of the Summit Expedition, Hansel was also well-known for his inspirational quotes. One such quote goes as follows: “Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid joy.” It is noteworthy that this quote and its variants are also commonly attributed to the Dalai Lama, Haruki Murakami, and Kathleen Marie Casey.