Learning What Pain Is

Nobody likes to feel pain. Why would they? It hurts. Yet, Bill Bradley, the basketball player and former US Senator is right: “There has never been a great athlete who did not know what pain is.” That can be expanded: There has never been a great person who did not experience pain and did not learn from it.

So the next time you feel pain—whether it’s a broken arm or a bout of depression or the sting of a rude remark—say to yourself: I don’t like this, I wish it hadn’t happened but I am at least learning what pain is. I am exploring my tolerance for it. I am growing because of it.

The last thing you want to add to the equation is bitterness or blame or rage. “Anger always outlasts hurt,” is how Seneca puts it. It also distracts us from the opportunity. It also deprives us of the education we could have gotten in that moment.