The benefits of feeling bad
Dec. 13, 2019
by Ivan Raconteur

We can find something good to say about almost any situation if we look hard enough.

This thought occurred to me about 2 a.m. one recent morning.

I had been awakened from my slumber and shuffled to the kitchen to get a drink of water.

After assessing the situation, I rejoiced in the fact that my head was relatively clear, I was able to breathe normally, and I didn’t have more than the usual number of aches in various parts of my body.

This might not have been cause for rejoicing had I not been feeling miserable for the day prior.

So, in a way, feeling bad helped me appreciate feeling good.

We take a lot of things for granted, and our health is one of them.

Often, we push ourselves to the breaking point, and expect to carry on and “power through” every situation, no matter what.

Our bodies are smarter than we are, and sometimes they just decide enough is enough and stop us in our tracks.

That sort of happened to me recently. The plague has been making the rounds in our office, and I think I caught the edge of it, despite washing my hands about 100 times per day and avoiding physical contact as much as possible.

I’ve thought about wearing one of those surgeon’s masks at work, but that might be going a bit too far.

In any event, I found myself fatigued to the point I was falling asleep if I sat motionless for too long.

My head felt like it was under immense pressure. It reminded me of those old “Three Stooges” movies in which one of the boys inevitably got his head stuck in a letter press, while someone cranked down the plate threatening to squash his melon like a grape.

Despite drinking about 1,000 gallons of water, I couldn’t quite get rid of that dry spot at the back of my throat. Some readers might think I’m exaggerating, but I was seriously starting to slosh when I walked. That’s a lot of water.

I subsisted for a couple days on fruit smoothies and the aforementioned ice water.

It didn’t matter though. Not only did I not have the energy to bother preparing a meal, but nothing sounded very appetizing anyway.

As a result of this adventure, I was forced to slow down a bit.

Our bodies are really good at this.

If we try to get by on five hours of sleep per night for an extended period, our bodies take over and decide when we are going to sleep, whether we like it or not.

I’ve had the same experience with injuries.

You think you can run around on a broken leg? Guess again, our bodies tell us, before knocking us to the ground.

If you want to know how often you use certain muscles, try injuring them.

I’ve determined in the past that there is no easy way to stand up or lie down without somehow engaging the back muscles. If you forget that lesson, there’s a painful reminder in store for you.

We think we’re in charge, but we’re not.

Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Our bodies are designed to protect us from doing serious long-term damage, and they do a pretty good job at that.

They’re also good at telling us when it is time to slow down so they can use their resources to fight off whatever version of the plague we have exposed ourselves too.

However, there is a bright spot in all this.

The prize is that if we manage to survive, despite our failure to take care of ourselves, we get a nice clear comparison that will help us appreciate what a “normal” day feels like for most of us.

I can say, based on recent personal experience, that’s a wonderful feeling.

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