1/9/17 - Seeking Suffering to Enjoy Happiness
Here’s a little riddle for you. Could it be that our unwillingness to suffer is robbing us of happiness?
I think so.
Instead of understand that suffering is suffering and joy is, well.. joy, many of us live by a general rule that suffering is bad. Therefore, it should be avoided at all costs. Luckily, we’ve got medications for any real or perceived ailment, we put on a happy face, and when people ask us how our day is going, we promptly say, “Great!” Of course, on the other hand, joy is good, so we’ll chase the impossibility of a life of only joy until the cows come home. I’d argue this makes us generally weak, fragile people who wouldn’t know real happiness if we bumped into it on the street.
While I understand where this faulty logic comes from, I firmly believe our allergies to suffering is stunting our growth and distracting us from real happiness. Of course, any sane person would prefer comfort, joy, and safety over the alternative. I’d argue that our obsession with being happy, more specifically to appear happy, combined with an unwillingness to be uncomfortable ironically prevents us from shining our brightest.
Happiness is a result. It’s not a thing you can do. We’re always encouraged to smile, put on a face, and, most literally, be happy. Much less often are we encouraged to earn our happiness. While that’s more enjoyable for those around you, it’s a problematic social norm if it’s not genuine. To take this a step further, life isn’t one big beautiful rainbow. Pretending that it is a lie. Maybe we start a movement. Painful Emotions Matter?
Ask yourself this, can you be uncomfortable? Can you suffer? Have you? When’s the last time you’ve been there? What kind of person do you become while suffering? While this isn’t pissing contest for pain in the same way that we shouldn’t be participating in the pseudo-happiness contest I often observe, either, I’d venture to bet that our willingness to suffer makes happier, more capable people. At the same time, the people that I observe that are trying to win the award for Happiest Person on the Block are ironically the most fragile, least happy people around.
If you are unwilling to endure suffering, I’d argue that you don’t know yourself and can’t be trusted.. not around me, at least.
Suffering is OK. Life, according to Buddha’s very first Noble Truth, is suffering. Let’s give up the fear of it. All of the most fulfilled, capable, happy people I’ve ever known have actively sought out real suffering in some way(s). Look, there’s plenty of terrible suffering in the world. I’m not saluting cancer and war, but I am saluting men and women that embrace the universal presence of suffering around them. Feeling weak? You can opt into suffering easily and safely with training, advanced education, long arduous pursuits of mastery, etc. Hell, get acquainted with a bath of ice!
The ripple effect of this mindset is endless. Imagine if you were more accepting of the mild suffering associated with the flu or a sprained ankle. Of course, it sucks. It’s supposed to, you know?
Complete 4 Rounds for time of:
20 DB Walking Lunges (50/30)
10 Ring Dips