Monday, April 26, 2010

Suffering Is A Habit

We all want to be happy. “Happiness is so important, it transcends all other worldly considerations,” said Aristotle. Yet, we manage to make our lives harder than they need to be.

For many of us, our minds gravitate toward (and perhaps even obsess over) what’s not working, who’s a problem, what’s missing, where we’ve failed (or risk failing), and how we are dissatisfied with what is. We wonder why it is this way, and we spend a lot of time attempting to get to the root. Is it effective? Does it produce better results? Sometimes. So we go back to that method over and over.

Even if we typically have a more positive point of view, we worry about, fear, and anticipate what might potentially go wrong – and strategize ad nauseam on how to minimize the risk. We might even embrace the concept that suffering is noble – that it is just part of us or part of life, and that nothing is going to change that. Perhaps we believe that true success requires it… sacrifice, struggle, challenges overcome.

The bottom line is: suffering is something we’ve gotten used to, starting from a young age. Yet, I contend that suffering is not only unnecessary, but is a habit. It’s the default place we go because it’s familiar and has been part of our experience for so long. However, with practice, we can minimize our experiences of suffering by shifting how we think.

Where we choose to direct our attention, thoughts, and actions has an impact on our experience of life. We attract into our world what we focus on. When we focus on the negative, that’s what we get. Conversely, when we choose to look from a positive point of view, we are more likely to get that.

We have a choice. We can shine the light on what we don’t like and don’t want. Or, we can accept what is, then focus on what we want to create – not as a fix-it, but as a burning desire to invest in what’s possible.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Here are a few suggestions of things to try. Pick one or two and see where it takes you.
Ultimately, how you choose to focus your thoughts will impact your experience. Choose to make yourself happy by investing in minimizing your suffering. It will not happen overnight, and will require practice and commitment. But the rewards are worth it. And so are you.

“Suffering is not good for the soul, unless it teaches you to stop suffering.” ~Jane Roberts

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Judah - I like that you give concrete examples of what to do in order to get better. So many writers in this space just say "stop doing x, it's not productive" but don't tell their readers how to do it. I did the Wheel of Life and I'm looking forward to being more mindful and using intentionality to improve in each area.