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Swimming Against the Certainty of Suffering

You are almost certainly going to suffer in your life; odds are you have suffered already. You might be going through something unpleasant and undesirable as you read this. We all deal with suffering in different and pernicious forms; it is a solemn fact of our existence. We all die. We are all exposed to varying degrees of pain – self-inflicted or arbitrary. We get hurt, we grow old and depreciate(some faster than others), and we watch as our loved ones get old and get hurt as well. The longer you think about it, the more brutal the reality seems – so let’s move on. 

But before we do that, hang on to this parcel of information: everybody suffers – not just you. We all suffer similar faiths in different forms and appearances. Rich people suffer too; that Instagram model that spends her days beach-hopping suffers as well; van-life couples that travel perpetually suffer too; Anthony Bourdain(a man who seemingly had it all) suffered. Their suffering might look different to yours, but it is there, not as conspicuously observable at the surface, but it exists. 

Why does any of that matter? 

The worst service you can do to yourself while wallowing in your suffering is to feel sorry for yourself, to feebly attempt to convince your sentimental subjective self that the world is out to get you. Denial is a deceptively dangerous tool that can debilitate us, individuals, from seeing the world in the right light. Convincing ourselves that the world is an unjust place that has thrown a biased gauntlet in front of us does little to move things forward. The universe is not conspiring against us, the victim. We need to get over the idea that the odds are stacked against us as if suffering is only present in our situation. Everybody suffers. 

Let’s stop hiding from the idea that life exists without suffering. Let’s not blunt the edge of our knives with the banal notion that life is all good, that it is possible to move through it without feeling pain and undesirable hurt. Let’s confront that suffering and push against it with good. 

Suffering is a certainty; good represents the opposing force that can be controlled

Life should be about mitigating our suffering. 

Once we face facts and accept that suffering is bound to us, we can journey towards good, using it as a counterforce. We can aim to be good and do good to help mitigate the inevitable suffering that is sure to wash up along our shores. Rather than allowing that suffering to oppress us further(by playing the vulnerable victim card), we can proactively act against it through positive measures. Accept suffering, initiate good. 

This is what happened once I started confronting my suffering and accepting its inevitable existence.

I became less resentful. It sucks to think that your life is worst than others. The perils of resentment are ripe when you allow them space to proliferate in your imagination. By admitting that suffering was expected(and inevitable), I became less resentful of that suffering. I stopped blaming the world for what was happening around me and began looking at what I could do to alleviate the suffering. I found that slowly eliminating resentful feelings led to enormously powerful results, allowing me to look past the negative emotions that dribbled into my daily existence, to focus more keenly on what good I could instigate instead. Being resentful is counterproductive, always. Accept the suffering that exists and move on. 

I stopped playing the victim card. I began taking responsibility for the suffering that was transpiring around me. Instead of assuming that my depression was tied inevitably to the misfortunes of my life, I took steps toward alleviating those negatives emotions. I stopped blaming dumb luck and admitted that I was bound for pain and hurt, just like everybody else. I quit tormenting myself over the perceived unfairness of life. I reiterated the normality of suffering, and it helped me accept it through the daily turmoils of life. 

I learned to appreciate my suffering. Compared to historical terms, my suffering today represents a tiny fraction of what someone would have suffered in the past by contrast. I learned to appreciate how we have alleviated much of our suffering over time through technology, medicine, and intellect. While suffering still exists, we have managed to mitigate it tremendously over time, and we should all be appreciative of that knowledge. While I suffer now, I suffer less severely than I would have a hundred years ago and far less strenuously than a thousand years ago. It helps to look at it through a historical lens. 

I began seeking ways of being good.  Once you accept that suffering is the default setting that drives your life, you begin to seek a proliferation of good actions to counter the suffering; you feel more in control of life. Ambitions become inspired by a willingness to do good(and to be good) to push against suffering; these noble actions take on a natural existence of their own. 

I know the inevitability of growing old, yet I can do perpetual good to my body and mind to mitigate that suffering over time. I can exercise and eat healthily, and those reactions will decrease the probability of suffering as I grow older. I understand the hurt involved with seeing people around me suffer from disease and death; I can enlighten them with helpful advice to propitiate their lives and suffering. I can make the world a better place with the sole intention of mitigating suffering. 

Suffering exists; everybody suffers or will suffer at some stage. It is far too easy to get wrapped up in the perceptibly disproportionate balance of suffering among individuals on this planet; it does us no good to consider it. Life is suffering; all the good we can harness to counterweight that suffering expresses hope in the best way. 

I learned to focus my attention on doing good while exploring actions that helped me mitigate the suffering in my life. I will never eliminate it; that is a fool’s errand. But I can mollify that suffering with small incremental steps of goodness every day by making myself and those around me better. 

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