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Volume 68, Issue 1, Date


We should embrace life's pain

Randy Woock
Opinion Columnist

Sadism and masochism are the only viable philosophies in a world like ours. A bold statement, yeah, but unless you get off to overdosing on delusion, there are few other philosophies that'll help you survive and thrive here on spaceship Earth.

Sadism will help you enjoy other people's pain, and masochism will help you enjoy your own.

Let's face it, if there's one conclusion about life that experts through endless ages, from all corners of the planet can agree on, it's that life hurts.

No one can guarantee that during your life you'll fall in love or have ecstatic spiritual visions or reach great contemplative depths previously unknown to man, but it's a given that you'll hurt.

Let's put it like this: go home tonight, sit down someplace comfortable, and spend some time thinking about how everyone you love and care for will one day die. Think about it good and hard. Everyone you love: Dead. Gone forever.

Cheery stuff, eh? Barring radical advances in the biosciences, it's inevitable.

But hey, there's no reason for you to passively wait for life to slap you around like an abused spouse. Our species didn't conquer this planet by miserably accepting their fate. Hell no. Humans are some totally adaptive mammals.

We learned how to use bacteria to make penicillin, how to feel funny after eating certain fungi, and now we need to learn to enjoy all the suffering in life.

Think about it; if you were guaranteed to experience something, wouldn't it make more sense to enjoy it rather than suffer through the incident?

What if it was unavoidable that you would be forced to eat cauliflower five times a week? Would you rather cringe and gag each time, or make a conscious effort to savor the delicate flavors whenever it touched your palate?

And besides, if you're going to pick something in life to enjoy, something you're going to laugh at, something to derive pleasure from, it might as well be something there's an awful lot of in the world.

You can make a point of enjoying fine wines, but the rivers aren't exactly flowing with the stuff (except maybe Buffalo Bayou; Christ only knows what's in there).

You could decide to find pleasure in the random kindness of others, but they're not exactly passing that stuff out for free in our dog-eat-dog capitalist society.

You could choose to laugh at midgets, but they're kind of rare, and besides, they would probably have ample reason to laugh right back at you.

One thing, however, that I do see everywhere I look is human suffering and misery.

Never mind all that Eye of the Beholder crap, there just seems to be a never-ending supply of the stuff. How else do you think they fill the newspapers day after day?

With so much of it floating around, with pain and suffering so prevalent in our society, you'd be stupid not to find it amusing. Being horrified and depressed by it all does no good, so why not get a chuckle out of your misfortunes and those of others?

Think of it as an attitudinal form of alchemy. You're taking the base events of human suffering and instead of allowing yourself to be bummed out by it all turning it into something useful to yourself.

You're taking something "bad" and using your will and consciousness to turn it into something "good."

Laugh at pain and you've just transmuted dirt into gold. It's what those Hallmark cards and disciples of Norman Vincent Peale never tire of telling us: life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.

Wouldn't you rather be amused at life than frightened and horrified by it?

So laugh at the natural disasters you see on TV, smirk whenever you see a hearse drive by, and don't forget the witty quips during your next break-up. Don't be victimized by the suffering you see in life; thrive on it.

Woock, a senior psychology major, 
can be reached at


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