Scott Adams argues that we seek pain, even when we claim to seek pleasure:
You might know people who continuously make choices that put them in some sort of danger, economically, socially, or physically. To you, their choices seem unwise. You assume that the people who make those choices get some sort of payoff you can’t understand. I think the payoff is the pain itself, and the attendant feeling of being alive.
If sadness is your preferred pain, you watch sad movies. If muscle soreness is your preferred pain, you exercise vigorously. If economic uncertainty is your preferred pain, you pick fights with your boss. If stress is your preferred pain, you make sure you don’t leave enough time to do what you need to do.
My immediate reaction was vehement disagreement: That’s crazy! I don’t hike to experience pain and feel alive, as he puts it. I hike for the pleasure I get after reaching a summit or completing a hike.
Giving it some more thought, I think he might have a point there.
(Note that this does not apply to those who don’t partake in activities that cause pain.)