Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pain Sweet Pain

“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” Jim Rohn

Oh how we dread the thought of feeling any type of pain. God forbid we are led to endure any type of discomfort in our lives. Headache? Grab a bottle of Motrin! Back pain? Get the doctor to write a script of Vicodin or Oxycodone! Hurt feelings, remorse, or any form of guilt? Let's drown it all out by consuming a bottle of whiskey! Don't get me wrong, there certainly is a place for 'pain therapy' but it seems America is not only attracted to but also addicted to the idea that pain is meant to escape. Somewhere in our interpretation of 'the pursuit of happiness', we (Americans) have determined that pain was not contained within the definition of happiness. In our Disney-fied Hollywood saturated minds of life, our happily ever after pictures of life have no place for pain. When pain comes, our first move is to escape it! It doesn't matter how the headache evolved, all that matters is the pain is felt, and the goal is NO PAIN.

A quick glance at our love affair with painkilling drugs is quite illuminating. Over an eight year period (1997 - 2005) statistics from the the Drug Enforcement Administration shows the amount of five major painkillers sold at retail stores rose 90 percent. More than 200,000 pounds of codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and meperidine were purchased at retail stores during the most recent year represented in the data. That total is enough to give more than 300 milligrams of painkillers to every person in the country. Without writing a book, although I could, here are a few statistics concerning just the use of pain pills alone in these United States.
* Painkillers are the most commonly abused prescription drugs.
* The U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of painkillers, using 71 percent of the world’s oxycodone and 99 percent of the world’s hydrocodone, or Vicodin.
* In 1991 there were 40 million prescriptions for painkillers worldwide, but by 2001, there were 180 million painkiller prescriptions, most of them in the U.S.

* 7 of the 11 drugs most commonly abused by high school students are prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
* A 2006 survey found that 7 million people 12 and over had abused prescription or over the counter drugs in the past 30 days. Most abused painkillers.
* 2.2 million people age 12 and up started abusing painkillers in the last year.
* Young adults, age 18 to 25, show the most painkiller use and the greatest increases in abuse.
* About 1 in 4 teens will abuse prescription drugs before they graduate from high school
* Emergency room visits related to painkiller use rose 153 percent from 1995 to 2002.
* Admissions to drug treatment programs for people using painkillers rose 321 percent from 1995 to 2005.
* The number of people abusing painkillers is estimated to have risen from half a million to 2.5 million between 1985 and 2002.
* Deaths related to painkiller use rose 160 percent from 1999 to 2004.
* The abuse of painkillers causes more deaths than heroine and cocaine combined.

And on and on it goes ad nauseam...and this doesn't even include all the other prescription drugs Americans swallow, inject, inhale, spray, infuse, and pat on their bodies for medicinal purposes!

It seems the more our society unravels, the more we look for solace in avoiding pain. Every where you look pain is to be avoided at all costs. From physical pain to spiritual pain, the goal is to minimize its signal and strength. Like an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand, we have created this out of sight, out of mind world of illusion. If I don't confront it, then it doesn't exist. It is far easier to mask the pain in our body with a drug than to actually have to discipline ourselves to some requirement of having to change how we do things. The same tune is sung with our spiritual pain. Rather than deal with our inner man, we saturate our minds with avoidance techniques. Recreational drugs of choice helps to enshroud our repressed grudges and anger, leaving us numb to the realities of life.

If for just a moment I could get you to step away from your shrine of victim hood and perpetual pursuit of pain avoidance, I may then be able to get you to 'see' that pain is good. Think of a life without pain. There are rare cases in this world where people are born without the ability to feel pain. There are cases of children, because they were born with the inability to feel pain, biting their tongues and fingers off. If we can perceive pain correctly, pain then is a gift from God. Pain tells us something is not right. The physical pain of a sprained ankle warns us there is something wrong. If we didn't have that ankle pain, then we would walk on, causing more and more damage to our body. The spiritual pain of the psyche warns us we must change our way of thinking and doing things. Yet, rather than confront, we try to conceal. We begin to perform covert operations against our own soul. Then when the harvest of such underground mole work begins to manifest itself in our lives with alcohol and drug addictions, we then shake our fist at God and blame Him. When, if the truth be known, God gave us the gift of pain to guide us back to health.

To confront pain is not easy. It takes guts. It takes honesty. It takes grit and determination to deal with pain head on. Only you can take this journey to confront the inner hurts and pains of life that have seemingly forever slowed you from achieving and grasping the fullness of life. Don't you think its time to 'get your head out of the sand' and confront your life?

Submitted by: Elder David Green

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Are You On Target?

The timid and fearful first failures dismay,
but the stout heart stays trying by night and by day.
He values his failures as lessons that teach,
The one way to get to the goal he would reach.

Edgar A. Guest

Its been almost five weeks since I ran the Detroit Free Press Marathon and lately I have found myself in a very odd place. Unmotivated! They say this happens for marathon runners. Its called the post-marathon blues. After completing nine marathons I have had some of this post 'depression' happen before but just not to this extent. I just don't feel like doing much and it is very difficult to expend any energy to go out and run a few miles. Its quite a change from four weeks ago, when I looked forward to running ten or eleven miles. Now, its difficult to feel motivated to run three miles, let alone go out and do much of anything. When you are training and disciplining yourself for an intense eighteen weeks toward finishing a marathon, when the marathon is over, you wake up with 'nothing' to do! Weeks and weeks of staying and keeping yourself motivated toward that big day have been so ingrained into your psyche, when its over, a foggy like depression seems to overcome your mind.

As I have journeyed through these last few weeks, I have been searching my mind and examining these feelings. It has come to my attention the importance and value of a goal. How the mind works and the necessity of working toward a 'fixed' destination. Elbert Hubbard said, "Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal." It's not that people don't have the potential, but most do not take the time to set concrete goals. Though they idealize where they want to go, they do not take the time to truly mark their course toward a certain destination.

Since I began running marathons, and as long as the Lord tarries and affords me the blessings of good health, I have set it in my heart to run at least one marathon a year. Through this small event of life, I am able to get a larger than life snapshot of the power of goal setting. Long before I commit myself to train for a marathon, I am already pondering the 'best' time to commit my energies. When I finally commit to train, I write out my entire training plan on a calender. "Life takes on meaning when you become motivated, set goals and charge after them in an unstoppable manner." (Les Brown) Here I can 'see' my entire eighteen week schedule toward my goal of completing a twenty-six mile run. There is something about marking 'Race Day' on the calendar. From the pen to the mind, a vision is set in your heart that transcends the moment. There is a truth that knowing your destination is half the journey. From that moment on I know where I am going, but more importantly, I know how I am going to get there! Jim Valvano said, "How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal and you have to be willing to work for it."

What is our life without goals and not just any goals, but concrete purposeful goals. Aristotle said, "Man is a goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals." I know we hold certain dreams and hopes in our minds of where we would like to be or become, but there is more to obtaining than just wishing it to come to pass. "No matter how carefully you plan your goals they will never be more than pipe dreams unless you pursue them with gusto." (W. Clement Stone) With a proper vision, and your heart set, you must work to achieve your goal with a tenacity of a pit bull. Your vocabulary must change. Your work ethic must change. Your energy must be funneled away from waste and into what will help you to achieve your goal. "Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help with man with the wrong mental attitude." (W. W. Ziege)

Its time we get off our bed of ease and begin to really contemplate where we are heading and then decide if we really want to go there. This requires examination and honesty, which is a difficult task, because it is within our own nature to deceive ourselves. The world has us busy and keeps us busy, but what are we busy about? Is it quality energy propelling us toward our goals, or is it empty energy spent toward some vague point in the distant future? Mary O'Connor said it this way, "It's not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised. The mosquito is swatted." We must move with purpose and the only way to move with purpose is to create a target worth shooting for! "If you shoot for the stars and hit the moon, it's ok. But you've got to shoot for something. A lot of people don't even shoot." (Robert Townsend)

Zig Ziglar said, "Outstanding people have one thing in common: an absolute sense of mission." What is YOUR mission? What are your goals? Today its time to take some time to contemplate and examine yourself. Don't rely on others to dictate or create your life's goals. Don't allow yourself to be deceived into believing your life is not worth the pursuit of something beyond the statistical many who live without a vision. "Here is a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete. If you're alive, it isn't." (Richard Bach) a matter of fact...right NOW...get out that piece of paper and begin to draw the target of your dreams. You may be surprised at what you come up with!

Submitted by: Elder David Green