Monday, February 18, 2013

Pain and Pleasure

Last night I watched a show on PBS called pain and pleasure. The host began by asking the question, "If you could list ten things that bring you pleasure what would they be?" How much do you think about pain and pleasure? Are you too busy to give pain and pleasure a second thought? More on this later.

In the beginning of the show the host did an experiment of sorts with chocolate. Since so many people find pleasure in chocolate he decided to eat as much chocolate as he could until he felt sick. What he found was that after the first few bars he had enough and the pleasure of eating it went away. He continued to eat until he got physically sick. He said he was not going to be able to eat chocolate for at least a month after this. The point was that even though the chocolate brought him pleasure in the beginning at some point it began to bring him pain. He wanted to stop eating it. His brain continued to tell him to stop but he didn't, hence getting sick. This makes sense to me as I love my morning cup of coffee it takes heavenly but I find on the days I think I want another cup the second one does not taste nearly as good and I usually only drink half of it. This is also the reason there are so many obese people in the world because they don't stop eating when the brain tells them to. His point was we need to learn to listen to our brain and what it is telling us and when it has had enough.

Pain. How do you measure pain? Pain is subjective so measuring it is hard you cannot compare pain. What is pain to one person may not be to another. I have a very high pain tolerance. The pain charts they use at a doctors office are stupid because a 5 to me may be a 10 to someone else. All subjective. Pain is experienced in the brain just as pleasure is. There was a study done that found if your pain had a reward such as childbirth it was easier to tolerate but if the pain didn't have a reward such as cancer treatments which lasted a long time it made it harder to tolerate the pain. I can understand this. If I look at my pain as a lifetime thing I cannot handle that thought it makes me feel worse but if I look at it as, tomorrow will be better the pain is much easier to take. I also am thinking of quick pain. A few months ago I cut my finger on the lid of a can. When I did it I didn't feel much pain and then I looked at the finger and the blood and the pain came. Makes me wonder what would have happened if I never looked at it. Again my high tolerance for pain may have had something to do with it. I had a steroid injection in my hip a few weeks ago and the doctor was amazed that I didn't even flinch. I didn't feel a thing compared to the pain I had been experiencing the shot was a breeze. Maybe the thought of knowing the pain was going to go away soon with the shot made me not have pain when she injected me? I don't know. It is just that when pain is a way of life you really don't think about it, it just is. The brain is amazing and uses pain to tell us something is wrong. Ignoring that pain can have dire consequences. The days of toughin it up are gone we must remember pain is there for a reason. 
They also did a survey with people on the streets and asked them what was the worst pain you have ever experienced. Many people told of heart attacks, diabetes and other medical issues, but they found above all these was the pain of losing a loved one or a break up with someone they loved. The emotional pain was much worse than the physical. This made me wonder. What if someone never had a true love? What if someone never lost a loved one? Is physical pain worse to them? How can we really say what the worst pain for one is the worst pain for another? We can't. I believe we are all different and we all experience life different whether it is physical pain or emotional pain we are talking about.

Did you know smiling can make you feel pleasure? When you smile you use the muscles on the sides of your mouth which in turn send more blood to your brain which in turn gives you more pleasure, automatically. Even if you are forcing a smile it tricks your brain into thinking you are happy. I truly believe happy people live longer and have a much better quality of life. Think about the people you know. We tend to hang with people who are happy and avoid the negative people. This is good for us and for our soul to surround ourselves with these happy and positive kinds of people. People who don't drag you down. The next time you are out in public smile at someone and watch what happens. They more than likely will smile back at you because a smile is contagious. It makes us feel wanted and cared about even to a stranger.

Back to the top ten list. If I handed you a paper and pencil could you write down the ten things that bring you pleasure? First off I am going to do the top four for you since they are more than likely true for most people, give or take.
2. Friends
3. Food
4. Sex
Now all you have to do is fill in the next six.
This was easy for me. I wonder if it will be easy for everyone. I wonder how many people ever take the time away from the hustle and bustle of life to really think about what brings them pleasure. For some reason I don't think they do but I wish they did. Aside from the top four I am talking about the stuff that brings YOU joy. What are your pleasures? You know, the things that warm your heart just thinking about them. Mine are, Art. Walking in the woods. Being at home just putzing around. Pets. Looking at photos. Facebook. Yoga. I could go on and on. You have to remember the little things you do for just you are the big things that bring you joy. They feed your soul and help you to get through life. They are selfish things but when it comes to feeding your soul selfishness is okay. Really! If you are not doing things for yourself you can be no good to anyone else. I hope that you can take a few minutes everyday to do the things that bring you pleasure. If you can't do them then at least think about them for a few minutes they will be a mini vacation for your brain and just might bring a smile to your face.

God Bless!


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