Today I went kayaking for five hours. I have a chronic health condition which makes this amount of physical activity painful, both during and after, but I love kayaking, so I went anyway.
Six hours and eight ibuprofen later, I am laying in my bed, preparing for sleep, and happily imaging the next time I can go out and make myself miserable again. Which leads to my question:
Why in the name of all that is holy would I ever want to do this to myself again?
Exercise releases positive neurotransmitters, as does plentiful sunlight, time spent pursuing a hobby, and, for some (and I am one), the beauty of nature. But is a hit of dopamine really enough to make it worthwhile to me to deal with all this discomfort after? Wouldn't the pain actually act as a negative reinforcer to the behavior of kayaking for five hours? What is going on in the human brain when a person makes this pleasure for pain bargain?