Meaning and Suffering

Pain. What are the first few thoughts that come to mind? Do you cringe? Oh, how quickly you remember the time you touched the stove as a youngster or the recent ex-girlfriend who broke your heart…With the two examples, did you notice a difference? Of course you did because you are sharp as a whip! One is physical pain, the other emotional. Our mind plays an incredible game to adapt to the pain caused, however, identifying these two scenarios as the exact same. It tries to avoid this pain. The brain prevents this pain from happening again, as a defense mechanism. Way to go brain – you rock! The only issue is, pain is all around us. Our brain becomes so fixated on protecting you as a human that it slowly closes off…well, literally everything.

Pain is inevitable. Your whole life you experience pain, heck you might be experiencing pain right now (of course not due to reading this wonderful blog post). You can never escape pain and suffering, despite our consistent efforts to avoid it. This seems scary and of course seems a wee-bit nihilistic. So why am I telling you this?

Well, because it gets better. Freedom, simply put, is having the option to choose your pain. The majority of people on this planet have this freedom. We can choose what we're willing to suffer for, whether it’s the pursuit of love and the possibility for heartbreak or a passion for football and the physical toll placed on your body. We have this luxury.

I'll focus on emotional pain...Do you sit in despair losing all trust in future relationships and never pursue another, fearing more pain?

“But it hurts. It sucks. There's no Band-Aid fix to my feelings.”

Of course not, I am not discrediting your feelings in any capacity. However, remember when I said that pain is inevitable? If you live your entire life avoiding pain, you are letting pain control your life. We must choose our pain. Find what is worth the pain and embrace it. In this scenario, is finding love worth the potential pain of losing someone you care about?

“So, naturally, we should choose the pain that brings us the least amount of suffering, right?”

Not always. There are things in life worth a great deal of pain. It’s just a matter of finding what those things are. Religious peoples the world over go through the excruciating pain of hunger through fasting - their beliefs are worth this suffering.

You must put meaning to your suffering - like getting back on the metaphorical horse after a failed relationship, business, or career because you value success in these areas. The struggle, the pain...they're worth it if they align with what you value.

Exercise your freedom. Choose to suffer for what means the most to you.

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