Living Well

January 23, 2010

Do You Have Enough Pain?

I served as a university risk manager for over 15 years.  While in that assignment, I learned the basic elements of ergonomics.  Simply put, ergonomics helps identify those workplace or furniture designs that create uncomfortable environments or stresses on the body that over time become physical trauma.

One lesson I learned as an ergonomic’s student is being aware of what your body tells you through discomfort or pain.  It is often easy to spot and correct a workplace induced physical stress when we pay attention to what our body verbalizes.

I was complaining one evening to my wife that my shoulder and elbow had been hurting for weeks.  Over the next few days, while working at my computer, it dawned on me that this pain resulted from where I had placed my computer mouse.  I lowered the mouse location by five inches and received pain relief in another ten days.  I could have tried a lot of pain killers or received medical attention and never reduced the discomfort.  But by being self-aware, I eliminated my pain and regained lost productivity.

Honest self-reflection is an essential teacher in our journey to self-identity.  Spanish Jesuit and novelist, Baltasar Gracian, says it this way, “Self-reflection is the school of wisdom.”  Self reflection provides the insights needed for living well, just like being aware of my pain and watching for the remedy.  If we are not living as we want, we must ask the question of why?  If your dreams are not being fulfilled, you have to ask, “What keeps me from enjoying the life I dream about?”  Honest and penetrating self reflection educates us about what matters in our life and what keeps us from truly living with purpose and meaning.

A Stephen Covey insight applies to this statement and jabs enough that it might be what is needed to nudge a person awake.  It is about pain.  In his book, “First Things First,” (which I highly recommend), Covey observes, “Much of our pain in life comes from the sense that we’re succeeding in one role (of life) at the expense of others, possibly even more important roles.”  Dr. Phil McGraw is blunter when he asks, “Is it working for you?”  If we have enough pain from our current situations and life journey so far, acknowledging that pain and finding healthy remedies for it might really change us now and for the future.   Self awareness is fundamental to a purpose driven life and ultimately contentment.

So today’s consideration: If your life is not what you want it to be, why?  What are the external barriers that keep you from living with satisfaction (e.g., finances, location, job skill, education)?  What are the internal barriers that keep you from living with contentment (e.g., fear of risk, fear of failure, procrastination, or lack of accountability)?

In upcoming  blogs, I want to give you some steps in setting goals.  I don’t intend to leave you answering seemingly esoteric questions.  To do that would be irresponsible for me.  I will give you some steps in goal setting that I use and that have been suggested by many experts.  But for now, I hope you are following this process that I know will help you live with purpose.

Blessings as you continue moving forward and become honest with yourself about what will help you live well.  Grace and peace.

David Neidert


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