Suffering is Optional

When I first read the Buddhist saying, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”, it felt like I found the key to happiness in print. It made perfect sense to me.

Perhaps it resonated so clearly because I always tended to naturally live my life that way.

I am one that recovers from pain quickly. It doesn’t matter if my pain is emotional, spiritual or physical, my focus has always been to lean into feeling better rather than prolonging suffering. It simply made more sense to me.

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Sometimes I wonder why so many of us humans live most days in suffering.

In working with my clients over the years, I have learned that some believe they don’t deserve to be happy, let alone be joyful. Others seem to relish the attention they received in the suffering, while others simply do not see they have a choice.

Since no one can escape their life without a variety of traumas occurring along the way, it makes sense to me to practice living by minimizing suffering.

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Some of the non-suffering mindsets that I have adapted include the following:

  • I remember that I am a spiritual being having a human experience, which means my spirit is eternal, while my body is temporary.
  • I seek the lessons in the experience by focusing on how the pain is teaching me something that I can use later on.
  • I accept what I cannot change.
  • I avoid creating needless suffering by thinking thoughts that hurt me rather than support me.
  • I frequently focus on what I am grateful for in my life, rather than any negative experiences I may be having at the time.
  • I meditate, pray, journal and blog about what is present as if I am a detached observer of my human experience.
  • I recall the many previous challenges that I already survived and allow myself to feel confident about successfully moving beyond whatever is currently on my plate of life.
  • I avoid blaming others for my pain.
  • I allow myself to have peace in my grief, my pain, or my confusion by not resisting it. (What I try to push away only gets stronger)
  • I identify my fears then take a close look at how I may be making up a scarier story than what is actually true.
  • I love myself unconditionally, which means I allow myself to feel whatever emotions are present so they can eventually float away peacefully.
  • I allow my sense of humor to be a frequent companion.
  • I don’t take myself so seriously that my life looks like a low budget drama where eliciting pity can become the desired impact.
  • I ask someone I trust for help when I forget all of the above.

The good news is every year I have under my belt of living life while practicing non-suffering, I get better at it. This truth alone gives me the confidence that there is nothing to fear. I will survive it all until I make my exit.

Since I have nothing to fear that means I have everything to gain.

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