Pain now, joy later: Trading suffering for satisfaction

My idea for today is that we have this kind of internal market where we can make trades.
And on the one hand, we have suffering, and on the other hand, we have satisfaction.
So we can trade suffering and get some satisfaction.
And this would be, for example, exercise, where we are doing things that are deliberately uncomfortable.
And during the time of the workout, we feel uncomfortable.
And hopefully suffering is maybe an extreme word for- and it’s not necessarily full-on suffering, but it’s certainly uncomfortable.
And we deliberately take on this time of discomfort, and in exchange we get satisfaction.
We get a reward that the rest of the day is just a little bit better, the rest of our lives just a little bit better, in exchange for this time that we put in to suffer.
And you can also make this trade on the other side.
For example, with things like drugs and other forms of escapism, we can get satisfaction immediately.
Some kind of pleasure and comfort and satisfaction can be immediately obtained with the snap of the fingers.
But then the trade for that being that, after the time of the drug or the escapism ends, we find our lives are maybe not quite as good as they could have been.
In case of some heavy drugs and seriously damaging escapism, it can actually cause damage to us that can directly make our lives worse.
And in the case of simple time-wasting escapism, things like surfing the net for, you know, random content, then we can’t quite say that it’s directly damaged us, but it’s simply the loss of time, that after having spent this time of satisfaction, comfort and pleasure in doing the time-wasting activity, we now find ourselves with less time to actually do anything useful, and so all the possible progress that we can make in life is delayed, and that leads to future suffering.
So there’s the time cost, there’s the direct damage of habits that are directly bad for us, and there’s the general kind of dissatisfaction that sort of sinks in if we try to claim these sort of cheap satisfactions of escapism.
So that is the trade going in the other way, where it can appear like a very good prospect of, hey, I can feel good right now.
How great is that? And I’ll deal with the trade later.
Sometimes the metaphor of a credit card: you can look at this as an account with a credit card, so that you can withdraw money anytime.
You can withdraw satisfaction and pleasure at any time, but you are building up a debt if you do so with a credit card.
You’re sort of borrowing against your future suffering in order to enjoy right now.
Whereas the opposite side, where we are choosing suffering, that’s like earning income that ends up in your account.
Instead of making a purchase with a credit card, you can earn income to end up in your account, and then make purchases with what is in your account, with the money that you have gained through income.
And this could be through your workout, through training of any kind, through work of any kind.
And of course, it’s not a simple one-to-one trade, and it’s not that any kind of suffering will do.
It’s not simply a matter of I can bang my head against a wall and then I’ll feel better, you know, when I’m done.
Not recommended.
So it’s not automatic that any form of suffering will ever have a payoff.
And so we have to be careful about the types of suffering we undergo, and it’s not simply for the sake of suffering.
But if we undertake useful work, which is very uncomfortable but we know will be helpful for us, then we can suffer now, suffer for the moment, and in exchange get greater overall life satisfaction.

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