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  • Writer's pictureParker Hewes

Embracing the SUCK when life gets nauseous

Updated: May 18, 2023

an aerial photo of a sailboat and dingy taken from the top of the mast
Come What May ... And Love It. The name of the 52-foot catamaran sailboat where I will be spending the next month as we sail across the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii to Alaska.

Clichés make me sick. They just feel so boring and stale, overused to the point of losing its soul. And yet, here I am, sitting on a sailboat, thinking about how life ebbs and flows like the waves of the ocean. Yuck. Gag me. That's practically the oldest cliché in the book. I bet 300,000 high school graduation speeches have said those exact words. And this is how I choose to start my first published blog post ever. What a disgrace.

Then again, maybe I'm gagging because the nausea kicked in within the first 20 minutes of stepping on board this 52-foot catamaran. And now, with the room spinning, I try to focus on my laptop screen, which teeters back and forth with the waves. I'm starting to feel a little green. And in this moment, all I can think is: what can I change about my situation? How am I in control of my life right now?

My options: I can ask to get off the boat. I can take medication. I can stare at the horizon, lay down, or make myself puke just to get it over with. There are many techniques for seasickness, I could pick and choose any number of them for temporary relief. And granted, temporary relief might be all I need to get used to the motion of the ocean. But, similar to many experiences in my life, I'm going to use this opportunity to experiment with the abilities of my mind and body, not just pump myself with meds.

And so, I find myself wondering, if I used no treatments at all, could I defeat my seasickness simply by choosing not to have symptoms? Is it possible to control my nausea with my mind?

Geez, I'm starting to sound like a homeless guy who thinks he has telekinetic powers or something ("And now, for my next trick, I will move my little finger...with my mind!!!"). For real, though, people do this "mind over body" stuff all the time. For example, Ultra-runners have this phrase of being "stuck in a pain-cave." I'm no marathoner, but from what I understand, these runners will run so far for so long (from 30 to 200 miles at a time) that they start to feel themselves plunging into a world of full-bodied self-destructive agony. Their pain surrounds them like an endless cavern, and yet they keep pushing through the pain and somehow make it to the finish line. The difference between those that give up and the best in the world is not fitness.

The difference is mindset.

Elite runners embrace the pain cave. Amateurs let the cave embrace them. It's almost like the best ultrarunners are excited about pain. Like a badge of honor, they seek out the opportunity to break through another wall and push themselves to another zone. And they do. They keep running through that pain cave and come away smiling on the other side. Seriously, look at these faces after a 100-mile race.

More than anything, it's their attitude of embracing pain and discomfort that allows these runners to succeed. But they also know their pain is temporary. Pain is a state of mind. And although pain feels and IS very real, in the end, pain is just the way your mind alarms you to danger. And if you can "convince" or train your mind to overcome that alarm, pain and discomfort are nothing more than graphite on paper. They can be erased, penciled back in, and erased again at will.


"Pain is temporary. Pain is a state of mind."


The same goes for others negative emotions. They are all a state of mind, which means it's a matter of perspective more than anything else (unless you have hormonal/neurological imbalances). What you are experiencing in any given moment is simply your brain's interpretation of its surroundings. And, thankfully, the one thing that you have complete control over is your response to those surroundings.

You control your thoughts, your attitude, and your reactions to life's circumstances.

It may seem like you have no control sometimes, but you do. It's really hard to train your mind to have a positive perspective rather than defaulting to a negative response. Usually, having this kind of mental strength comes with years of practice. It requires crafting a mindset that gets you excited to lean into your discomfort so you can adapt and overcome it. But what's more important than your happiness and your outlook on life? It's worth it to feel a little pain if it means getting closer to long-term happiness.

Some of the haters will say this outlook is unrealistic, that it's healthy to experience negative emotions like sadness, grief, or heartache. But I'm not saying you are going to start looking like the Joker with a permanent smile on your face. Of course, those emotions have a place for our healing and growth. However, if I had a choice between being excessively happy vs. a realistic bummer, I'd choose happiness. I choose to push through the pain and discomfort to reach a happier finish line. I'll still be experiencing a full array of emotions throughout my life, but I'll be working really hard to digest those emotions and come out smiling on the other side. I recommend you do, too. It's worth the effort.

As for my seasickness right now, I'm choosing to be the master of my environment and choose how my mind and body respond to this teetering ship. (I'm also going to finally give in to all the sailing references. Here I go... it's time to take over the helm, be the captain of the ship, face the bow to the waves and crash through them head on. Ahh, I feel better now). I'll readily admit, though, that I haven't mastered this kind of control yet. I still have to take frequent breaks from staring at the letters that keep bouncing up and down with my computer screen. I still have moments of pain, frustration, fear, and overall suckiness. I have moments where I just want to be done. I have moments when I don't want to finish what I started, I just want to give up. But I look out at the horizon to get my bearings, focusing on the goal ahead of me, not the waves underneath me. I reassure myself that there will always be those moments of fear and worry and suckity suck suckedness. But I never forget that I can control how I respond in those moments.

And every time I respond positively and come out smiling on the other side, I know it will be easier the next time, and the next time, and on and on.

That's the kind of life that you can look back on with pride, thinking "Look at what I created, what I overcame, what I accomplished. In my short time on this Earth, I have lived a life that feels like many lives because I've embraced the fear and pain that comes from facing a storm head on. I've grown wise in my struggle to adapt and embrace discomfort, and look at how happy my life has been because of it."

If you heed these words, that's^^^ what you'll have to look forward to. So, what are you waiting for?

Go get 'em, captain.


Written by Parker Hewes, a chiropractor, author, American Ninja Warrior, and serial adventurer living in Salt Lake City, Utah. Parker believes learning and growing are the keys to living a full life. He started Getting Gooder to help others learn and grow, so they can create the happiest, healthiest, and wealthiest lives imaginable.

Parker also knows that our ideal life gets even better when we have others to share it with. So, keep following Parker and the Getting Gooder community as we build our ideal, together.

1 Comment

Gail Moline
Gail Moline
May 19, 2023

Sea legs: you will get your sea legs soon. Good luck on your new wavy journey. Make sure you embrace the pleasure of seeing land/home/stability.....What grounds you will carry you through. Glow forward.

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