Photo: Vincent Nicolas on Unsplash

Subverting Suffering: Reducing Suffering’s Power Over Us

“Life happens wherever you are, whether you make it or not.”

-Uncle Iroh

Navigating life is difficult. As we start out our own journey, we realize that we’ve been given a map with no legend and no compass. It is our responsibility to fill out the map as we go through life.

What Does it Mean to Suffer?

Most of us who have lived longer than a few years can point to a moment when we suffered, but when asked to define it, we hesitate. It seems so simple and everyone experiences suffering at some point right?

Why Suffering is Unavoidable

If suffering is caused by a negative change to something we care about, couldn’t we just avoid it altogether if we cared about nothing? Perhaps, if we were truly detached from everything, then suffering may cease to exist.

Growth and Change Induce Suffering

In the spirit of a still young 2019, let’s assume we’re unhappy with our appearance and decided to workout and eat better. I’m assuming at least one of us has done this before.

Staying the same is painful

Maybe we’re not as ambitious or even content with our lives as is. We should be safe from suffering at this point right? Unfortunately, the answer is still no. Especially in the United States, our culture is still largely one of comparison.

How do We Suffer Well

If suffering is waiting for us regardless of our choices, maybe numbing ourselves to the world is the best choice. After all, if we don’t care about anything then we can’t suffer, right?

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how”

Although we must suffer, we don’t have to do so in vain. Instead, if we can redirect our suffering towards a cause or reason, we can endure the inevitable suffering that accompanies life.

Wrapping Up

Suffering is inevitable. If we decide to live and engage in the world in any recognizable fashion we will invariably encounter suffering. While we’re usually preoccupied with our own, it’s important to note those we care about are usually enduring some suffering of their own.

I’m a nonprofit professional who’s deeply passionate about effective learning, self improvement, and chasing my curiosity wherever it leads.