Don’t postpone joy until you have learned all of your lessons. Joy is your lesson.” -Alan Cohen
There have been times when I’ve hurt tremendously and then felt a strong need to punish myself for my part in causing that pain. Usually it’s when I’ve made a mistake, and I feel ashamed, like I should have known and done better.
This is kind of ironic when you think about it—clearly I wanted to know and do better to avoid hurting, and yet instead of letting it go, I’ve continued to make myself feel bad.
When I was younger, someone once told me the more we hurt, the more we learn. While I agree that pain can be one of our greatest teachers, I’d like to challenge the presumption that there’s a direct correlation between learning and pain.
I think a better belief about pain is that each time we hurt, we learn a little about hurting less. I’m not suggesting there will ever be a time when we stop experiencing pain. We’re human, and we will always feel the full range of emotions—which is a good thing, since there would be no light without a little dark.
But every time we deal with something painful, we have an opportunity to learn how to decrease our suffering.
With each difficult experience we can learn how to more effectively let go, forgive ourselves, and move on.
With each challenge, we can learn how to think about things a little more positively and respond a little more proactively.
With each struggle, we can learn to attach to our feelings less so that they do not define or control us.
We can live our lives feeling frustrated with ourselves for having room for improvement, or we can accept that life is constant growth and give ourselves as much room as possible for joy.