If you have been reading this searching for happiness series on Scale it Simple then you may be under the impression that my views on searching for happiness include actually finding pure happiness, free from pain or suffering.
Perhaps in an oddly perfect world. In a perfect world, no one would suffer, no one would feel pain or heartbreak. In that perfect world, no one would grow, gather wisdom, be able to practice the beautiful human emotions of compassion or empathy either. You see through our suffering we can connect with each other and ourselves in the most amazing and transformative ways.
For this reason, suffering is one of the most powerful and important emotions in our lives.
To be honest, once upon a time I thought that my life would be truly perfect if I did not suffer. I was once nieve enough to believe that happiness was the ultimate destination, a place to settle into and rest, a place to find and live in forever. Or something like that.
It didn’t take long for that fantasy bubble to burst.
The truth is, happiness is not a destination, in fact, it is but one stone along a long and complex path. A path that not you, I or society can limit in any way, no matter how hard we try, and try we do.
However we can change our relationship to suffering, and we can learn to find the value within it in such a way that it brings us happiness. In fact, every emotion no matter how painful or uncomfortable holds the power to build within you whatever it is you wish. So although you may be suffering you can at the very least find some value within your suffering to build something within that is strong, wise and happy.
What is happiness anyway? In the simplest of terms, it is the state of being happy. I know, it doesn’t give you too much to go on does it? That’s because it isn’t one thing but a million things that bring us happiness, happiness is not one emotion but the cumulation of many lovely emotions. Like pleasure, love, and satisfaction to name a few.
So with that in mind how can we appreciate happiness through suffering, if we agree that happiness is actually born from other positive emotions and suffering is not one of those elite?
Well, let us look at the word appreciation, which is the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.
Suffering helps us cultivate awareness to the happiness we do have in our current lives. Suffering allows us an opportunity to “look on the bright side” and to truly connect with appreciation. There is always a seed of happiness waiting to be discovered, a silver lining so to speak, and the more you shine light and attention on that tiny seed the larger it will grow and the happier you can become.
I recently attended a very transformative meditation retreat weekend. During that retreat, we talked a lot about suffering and how to use suffering as a chance to practice. The concept was very liberating.
Emotions like patience and compassion can only be developed through discomfort. Suffering comes in many different forms, some suffer very much from very little and others suffer very little from very much. Regardless of your struggle, you can use that moment of suffering as an opportunity to strengthen other emotions within.
The easiest thing to do sometimes when we suffer is to blame, get angry, or breakdown, we cover up hurt with resentment and frustration at our situations. All normal and common reactions. However, the problem is those reactions only lead to more suffering. Liberation comes from changing our habitual responses.
So the next time you are suffering think about how you could change your feelings of anger or upset into an opportunity to help your future self. Cultivate compassion, wisdom, and patience in that very moment no matter how small so you can practice and gain true value from your suffering. The more you practice the easier this will become.
It is no secret that the greatest transformations and personal growth we encounter in this life are often born from the parents suffering and pain. Some would even argue that suffering is essential for growth. As a society or as individuals. At the most basic human level, we have long survived, thrived and evolved from our suffering as a people.
Our ability to learn and grow from suffering has allowed us to be the species we are today. Try not to shy away from the uncomfortable. Open yourself up to the lessons that are hidden deep within the bubbling smog of suffering, there you may find the strongest building blocks for your own personal growth.
Every situation we encounter has the ability to build us up or break us down, and the beautiful thing is we are the ones who get to decide.
When we suffer we often meet our truest selves. I was shocked to see clearly through my own pain where I resist life. Where my confidence is challenged, my fear flourishes and my resentment resides. We all have hidden caves within us that we shy away from looking into. Secret monsters that we feed in the darkness without even knowing.
In the darkness, these monsters grow and grow, affecting the landscape, and scaring away the neighbors. Through our ignorance, we ignore the true culprits. Sometimes we are too afraid to see the truth, sometimes we are just too blind.
There will come a point when searching for a true solution to your suffering when you will be brought into those caves. There is no way around it. Once you see what is truly hidden there you will feel closer to yourself and your own personal truth. From that point, you can decide to feed the monster further or slowly starve it out.
Don’t be afraid to look within it may be the most liberating thing you do.
Suffering provides us with a unique opportunity to connect with ourselves, the ones we love and the world. Yes, we can choose to allow suffering to drive us apart. However in order to gain true value in our suffering, we need to find the connection.
We all suffer. Every single emotion or feeling you have experienced or are experiencing someone else has and probably is feeling. It is just a beautiful part of being human.
I hope that thought is of some comfort to you when you are suffering. I know it was for me, as often suffering is such a lonely feeling.
In truth, although we work hard at categorizing ourselves and others, we are all the same vibrant species whose “differences” are actually our similarities if we look hard enough. Don’t be afraid to use suffering as a tool to help you connect with the truest meaning of that.
Do you have any topics of discussion you would like to be featured on this Searching for Happiness series? Just leave a comment below with your suggestion.
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