Why do we suffer?

Sometimes I feel sorry for myself. Thoughts like, “It’s not fair!” or “Why did this have to happen to me?” cross my mind.

Do you ever catch yourself lamenting that same age-old question, “Why me?” I would be surprised if you said no. After all, if you’re reading this, you’re probably human. And every person alive has uttered those words, or at least thought them, at one time or another.

A better question to ask ourselves might be, “Why NOT me?

What if going through various trials and troubles is why we’re here on earth in the first place? Don’t our greatest opportunities for growth and personal achievement often seem to emerge from the very challenges and obstacles we try to avoid?

We spend our lives trying to escape pain and anguish. But despite all of our efforts, suffering inevitably occurs anyway. Our own personal and unique “ring of fire” presents itself – again and again (and again) throughout our lifetime.

This makes me think that suffering must be an important part of our purpose, maybe even an integral part of our life journey. As much as I would prefer a kinder and gentler approach, overcoming adversity makes us stronger, smarter, and. . . well . . . just plain better people.

But WHY do we have to suffer?

  1. We think. Zillions of thoughts randomly roll through our minds every day. Unfortunately, many of these are negative or detrimental in some way. These thoughts all seem true. But since we don’t really have all the facts, many times they are merely our own manufactured “stories” we’ve made up. Sadly, our own misconceptions often lead to a lot of self-inflicted misery.
  2. We feel. Our perceptions and thoughts directly effect our moods and emotions. We may wake up feeling wonderful, but by the end of the day we feel miserable. Why? Because of how our mind interpreted our life that day. In other words, what we thought about it.
  3. We do. We respond to our thoughts and our emotions with our actions. We react based on our own assessment of a given situation or person. Sometimes these actions can lead to painful outcomes.
  4. We live. By just being alive in this world, we are vulnerable to accidents and natural disasters. We’re also subject to the spontaneous consequences of our own and other people’s choices, decisions, and actions, both good and bad.
  5. We die. We are mortal. Being made of flesh and blood means we’re not invincible. We each have a finite number of days on this earth, no matter who we are or what we do.

So if suffering is inevitable, how do we embrace it? How do we make it a GOOD thing?

  1. We think. Consciously manage your thoughts in an positive and productive way. Don’t let them control you. Observe them. Minimize the negative “stories” running through your mind. Try to be objective and honest with yourself when you notice they’re negative and destructive.
  2. We feel. Tune in to your moods. Be aware of your feelings and emotions. Did a negative thought cause you to feel sad or mad? Is your “story” causing you frustration or pain? Examine the thoughts behind your feelings. Accept them for what they are. They’re not the boss of you!
  3. We do. Once again, scrutinize whether your thoughts might be guiding (or misguiding!) you to act impulsively. Take a moment to make sure your actions are staying true to your beliefs and core values.
  4. We live. Accept that pain and distress is a normal part of life. Don’t try to flee from it or fight it. Meet it head on and go through it. Know for certain that just to be alive is a grand thing.
  5. We die. Your physical body is just a shell of the real you. Don’t be sad that you will eventually die. Be happy that you get to live! Dedicate your life to making the most of this amazing gift.

Our Journey to Palm Canyon can be exhilarating . . . or devastating. The choice is really ours. We can choose to be happy no matter what. Let’s use our pain and suffering as fuel for a meaningful journey. Our true talents and skills really will emerge when we’re faced with daunting circumstances.

Applying the principles of the island of Alumanaya has taught me that how we think about our life will determine what kind of life we have.

I choose to live with An Island Perspective – a positive, grateful and hopeful state of mind.

How have any of your trials turned out to be a GOOD thing?