This simple truth never fails to provide perspective:
It is completely normal and human to prefer pleasure over suffering; it is also completely normal for grasping onto pleasure to increase our suffering.
What does this mean?
For evolutionary reasons, our human minds and bodies prefer things that feel good to things that feel bad. Doesn’t this make sense? At the same time, grasping onto pleasurable things and aggressively resisting discomfort actually makes our overall suffering worse.
Suffering is a natural and inevitable part of life. This is exactly what the Buddha taught in his first noble truth. Joy and pleasure are also parts of our lives. Both suffering and joy, pleasure and discomfort, exist on the continuum of human experience.
When we become intolerant to discomfort, we try to negate a significant portion of our experience, turning our desire and attention only to the things we consider positive. Yet, when we do this, we become panicked about the fleeting nature of these pleasures, such that we often can’t even fully enjoy them.
Are you with me here?
So by resisting and becoming intolerant of suffering, we blunt our joy and pleasure. Conversely, when we open ourselves to our pain, we experience the full spectrum of our lives more brilliantly, more purely. Suffering and joy, pain and pleasure.
In your own life, could you normalize and humanize your own preference for pleasure? Could you catch yourself resisting discomfort and begin to turn toward it? What is the result?