When Pleasurable Activities Become Painful

When Pleasurable Activities Become Painful (and Some Alternatives)

78. It is well to yield up a pleasure, when a pain goes with it.

Many things which are pleasurable cause pain. Maybe not in the beginning, but eventually. This is often because things which are very pleasurable are easy to become addicted to. Then when inevitably done to excess, pain of some form commences.

A Few Examples

Let’s look at a few examples.

  • Drinking — great when you first start to get a buzz; things can spiral out of control from there and lead to sickness; the next day can be a wash if you drink too much, then end up sleeping in and nursing a hangover all day
  • Eating — very pleasurable to eat carb-heavy and fatty foods, such as rich and creamy pastas, decadent chocolate cakes, or extra spicy chicken wings; you can pay in a number of ways later: bad heartburn, indigestion, obesity, unhealthy biomarkers, and eventually life-threatening diseases like diabetes or clogged arteries
  • Being Slothful — can feel good to sleep in, lounge around, and consume content all day; acute pain can be physical and mental, but delayed onset pain is typically emotional or spiritual — i.e., you wake up one day and realize life has passed you by, you don’t have the health, wealth, or relationships you desire, and you haven’t done anything meaningful with your talents

You may have experienced pain or negative consequences from one or more of these examples. Maybe you find drinking in moderation easy, but struggle to not over-consume unhealthy foods late at night. And you’ve been gaining weight which has been making physical activities you used to enjoy difficult.

Or maybe you used to be able to have a couple drinks now and again, but find yourself depending more and more on booze to cover for your shortcomings. You use it as a crutch to overcome social anxiety, and often drink alone when you “don’t have anything else to do” or are “bored.”

Or maybe you overindulge in leisure activities that weaken your body and mind. You watch Netflix every night of the week, instead of reserving it for an occasional treat with which to relax after some hard work producing your own content. This one is especially insidious, because many people use TV as a way to “relax” after a draining day of work.

But are you really getting the recovery and recuperation you think you are?

Does Watching TV Help Me Relax and Recover?

Let’s look at the dimensions of energy expenditure and renewal, and see how “vegg’ing out” by watching TV does or doesn’t help us renew our energy:

  • Physical — most people are over-recovered physically. Full stop. Sitting at a desk all day, living a sedentary lifestyle, you don’t need to lie on the couch and rest. If you feel physically tired, this is a sign you’re not physically fit, and actually need to expend more physical energy, to build up your capacity.
    • Alternatives — If you do exercise and stay relatively active, why not do some mobilization, like stretching or foam rolling? Or why not stand if you’re gonna watch some TV. If you do hit the couch, maintain good posture and don’t slouch your shoulders or spine.


  • Mental — most TV watching does not help you recover mentally. It is produced with the lowest common denominator in mind. Easy to consume and understand. Particularly in the West, everything is spelled out so that nothing is left to the consumer’s imagination, like that abominable podcast Serial which everyone seems to love.
    • Alternatives — Try reading a book, which can lightly engage your mind while you unwind from your day. Another great way to recover mentally is actually a hard physical workout. Leave your phone in your locker.


  • Emotional — Not much emotional energy recuperation from watching other people live their lives or accomplish great things. And it’s all too easy to live vicariously through those we watch. We just end up riding a rollercoaster of emotion that is disconnected from our own lives and out of our own control.
    • Alternatives — Spend time with loved ones. Put the devices away and just talk. Face-to-face. Ask how their day went. Tell a funny work story with an obviously made-up ending. Act incredulous they don’t believe you. Also great is exercising — again, an excellent way to recover emotional energy.


  • Spiritual — Do I even need to say it? No, watching Netflix does not help you renew spiritual energy.
    • Alternatives — Work on a personal project. Build something. Produce content, don’t just consume it. Or give back — find a local shelter at which to volunteer. Help out those who are less fortunate in your community. Be a good citizen who contributes something back to the greater good.


So we talked about pleasurable activities that can become painful. When this happens, it’s best to cut them out of our life. The juice is no longer worth the squeeze. Or cut way back and only indulge on occasion, like once in awhile having a decadent meal to celebrate an important accomplishment.

Then we looked at ways in which to recover energy. Particularly how lounging around being lazy can really hurt us in that it doesn’t help us recover energy. Then we looked at alternatives that can be even more relaxing once you’ve built positive habits around them.

Until next time,


If you’re looking to keep your bad habits in check — and maybe even build some good ones — reading wise words that have stood the test of time is recommended by 9 out of 10 bloggers.



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