I’d Suffer Less
A client recently asked me, “Knowing what you know now, what’s the one thing you’d do differently in your life?“
I thought about it for a moment and then blurted out:
“I’d suffer less!”
Her question really made me think about my life. I’d chosen to suffer over my family circumstances growing up. I’d chosen to suffer over having open-heart surgery at the age of five. And I’d really chosen to suffer … in spades … when my husband died in 1991. I was 36 years old.
Don’t get me wrong. Anyone would grieve the loss of someone they loved so deeply, but I suffered for seven years!
Beyond a certain point the grieving became a way of life, one that I unconsciously perpetuated. I replayed the circumstances of my life over and over again, and wore my suffering on my chest like some kind of Purple Heart.
If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t go there. I’d choose to respond in a different way to the stuff that had happened. I’d make the choice to be happier.
I’d choose to gradually lift my vibration step-by-step from sorrow and despair up through anger to acceptance and then hopefulness a whole lot faster than I did. I would have worked at it more like my life depended on it. I would have actively sought to return to a joyful, happy state.
Look, we can’t avoid pain. It’s a fact of life.
We all get hit with the unexpected. We all experience frustrations, disappointments, and multiple shocks to the system during our lifetimes. Every one of us experiences trauma, both physical and emotional. There’s no escaping it. It’s an essential part of being human.
Suffering is a different story.
You might have seen the bumper sticker … Misery Is Optional.
That phrase actually comes from a larger quote by an author named Tim Hansel.
“Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. We can’t avoid pain, but we can avoid joy.”
Looking at that quote, it hit me. That’s what I’d done without knowing it. I’d been avoiding joy and choosing to turn the pain into suffering. Not that I didn’t have good reasons. But we ALL have good reasons! And they can form a kind of emotional prison if we let them.
As I was pondering all this, I happened to be driving by a church with one of those signs outside where they put the inspirational and clever messages. It simply said …
“Joy is not the absence of problems.”
Amen. It’s a good thing too! Otherwise, we might never be joyful, because in life, there are bound to be problems. True happiness comes from within. We experience joy when we let the life force flow through us.
Can the right set of circumstances bring on a joyful state? Sure. Just don’t make a habit of relying on the presence or absence of anything to determine how happy and joy-filled your life will be.
Make your own happiness. Be joyful. Suffer less.
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