3 Lessons Learned from Chronic Pain

by Alexandra Carmichael

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while. After a lifetime in and around chronic pain, I learned to be afraid of my own body, but I’m finally figuring out how pain has shaped my life for the better.

Here are my top 3 lessons learned from chronic pain:

1. Help People. Every day that I’m not in pain is a day that I can help someone else who is in pain. I try to help 10 people every day, in some small way. That way, no matter how frustrating my own day is, at least I’ve put some good energy out there and helped someone else. As the Dalai Lama said the other day on Twitter, “To the extent that suffering awakens our empathy and causes us to connect with others, it can serve as the basis of compassion and love.”

2. Don’t Follow Rules. Or at least, make up your own rules. Everywhere you look you’ll find rules to follow, to-do lists to live by, assumptions that no one challenges. Check in with yourself before blindly adopting someone else’s rules – do they make sense to you? Are they really necessary? Break as many as you can without violating any laws or hurting anyone. Dare to be radically yourself.

3. Live Simply. Or, get rid of all the useless stuff in your life. I live with as few things and commitments as I possibly can, and I highly recommend it! It feels wonderful to shed the heaviness and just be light. I recently wrote about our simple lifestyle here and here.

I’m very grateful to not be in pain every single day anymore. And if you’ve suffered in your life, see if you can derive some of your own lessons from the experience. Build your own model, be your own inspiration, and share your light!