What Is Suffering? Have you ever asked yourself what it is that makes you unhappy? What is it that makes you suffer? Why do you suffer? What triggers suffering?
These questions might sound philosophical or too spiritual for your liking, but if you take the time to think about these questions you’ll notice that they are immensely important if you want to find lasting happiness.
Why? Suffering is what keeps us from being happy. In other words, it is important to know what that roadblock, suffering, is and how to find your way around it to find happiness.
Suffering Is Part Of Our Conditioning
If you’ve had a serious setback, it can be difficult to feel happy. However, that doesn’t mean suffering is the only other option. A setback most often interferes with our plans, dreams, and goals, and that is one of the reasons why people see a setback as negative and associate it with suffering. The real reason is much more fundamental, but I’ll talk more about that in a future post.
A Personal Story
As some of you may know, some time ago, I had a serious bike accident. I broke one of my collar bones and my body was bruised pretty bad. For those of you who’ve broken a collarbone, it is painful and it takes a long time to heal as it cannot be put in a cast like a broken arm or leg. Often, we learn the most important lessons during tough times in our lives … unfortunately.
Immediately after the accident, I realized that my pain was bearable if I didn’t move too much. In fact, I didn’t feel like I was suffering even though most people would consider a similar situation as a source of emotional pain and suffering. At the same time, however, I noticed how my ego tried to claim my right to suffer. It wanted to use the situation to feel sorry for itself.
Noticing my ego’s behavior made me think about what I had read in the past about suffering and the role our mind or ego plays in it. At that point, I decided to not claim my right to suffer. Granted, it was a serious setback.
At that time, I was training hard for my first marathon and I was at a level of fitness I had never experienced before in my life. Because of my intensive training before the accident, I gained quite a lot of weight while recovering as my body was still used to take up as many nutrients as possible to support my training, even though I wasn’t able to train anymore.
It was a serious setback, but I was alive to learn from this experience. And that’s what I did.
Suffering Is Optional
Some things are hard to explain and by telling you this story, I hope you are starting to see what I’m trying to tell you. Suffering does not just happen to you, it is a choice, it is your choice. Of course, some experiences can be truly horrible, but remember that after having a bad experience, there will be a moment in your life where you have to decide to stop suffering if you want to go on with your life.
Why not take that choice now? Why not take that choice before the suffering has actually started? That is exactly what I did after my accident. I realized I was given the choice to suffer or to go on with my life.
There are going to be setbacks in your life, but there are two important questions to ask yourself. First, what do you define as a setback? In so many situations, however, a setback eventually transforms into a positive experience or result. I try to see every situation in my life as a lesson I need to learn, a reminder to get back in touch with my divine nature.
It is our conditioning, our mind, our ego that determines when a situation is negative or positive. In other words, it comes down to conditioning and a subjective response to a situation.
Second, do you claim your right to suffer? Nobody is going to blame you for feeling sorry after having an accident. They’ll try to cheer you up, but they’ll understand that you feel bad and suffer.
This simply is the consequence of our conditioning. Don’t give into the need to feel sorry for yourself and to suffer. An experience is negative from the moment you label it as negative. An experience is an experience. Nothing more and nothing less.
Before I leave you, I want to give you a tip that can help you when you are in a difficult place in your life. It is something I have said many times before, but I want to repeat it once more as I’m so convinced of its power. The tip is simply to feel your emotions in your body. That’s what your body and your emotions were designed for.
If you have lost a loved one, for example, don’t suppress your feelings, but feel the sadness and the loss in your body. Cry if tears well up, shout if you feel angry or powerless. Let it all out. By doing this, it will be easier to not choose for suffering. I guarantee you.