“Suffering is the only cause of consciousness” – Fiodor Dostoïevski
There is a tendency to suffer in our society that is generally accepted and even encouraged. We have this idea in our heads that people that suffer are more profound, more authentic, more romantic, more spiritual, more intelligent even.
The popularity of suffering is taking on absurd dimensions and we’re even proudly wearing our suffering as if it were a medal of honour: Suffering at work is honourable, at least it shows you’re putting in the effort, suffering in your relationship is admirable for it shows that you really love the other person, suffering for art is imperative for happy artists produce shallow work…
You can test this if you like: share your most miserable story in a group with other people, there will always be someone who will be able to dig up a story that is worse. My suffering is bigger than yours!
The nobility we attribute to suffering comes from the fact that we associate it with sacrifice. Because sacrifice is noble isn’t it? Sacrifice indicates that we’re able to let go of our own importance and personality for a cause that’s greater than just one’s simple little ego, isn’t it?
Here are some common examples: “I’m miserable, but I sacrifice my happiness for art” or “I don’t have the time to grow personally, I sacrifice my personal happiness for my children” or also “I don’t allow myself to have fun, I’m building a career.”
What I see is nothing admirable. I see people that are afraid to live, that are afraid to take a risk and realise their dreams and that found the perfect excuse to prevent themselves from taking responsibility for their own lives.
The non-sense of idealising suffering
Why not stop this absurd idealisation of suffering and show our happiness a little bit more. Are we ashamed of our happiness? Why? Does being happy mean that we live a boring life? Are we afraid of hurting the feelings of unhappy people?
Religion did a good job convincing people that suffering is inevitably part of life and even essential for every person that wishes to elevate himself and that wants to grow. Later on, this tradition of martyrdom has been eagerly integrated by our educational system, the labour market and governments worldwide because the mentality of “no pain, no gain” just happened to be very convenient to them.
Should you still have any doubt on the matter: You don’t need to suffer to become more “spiritual” and suffering will not, in any way, help you grow or gain depth. The manner in which you deal with suffering can help you grow, your reaction after an injury can set off a positive change in your life, the realisations that dawn on you after an emotional shock can open up your consciousness. But suffering in itself can not help you grow, suffering is not a fertile soil for personal growth. If you are capable of moving forward during a time of suffering, this is in spite of your suffering, not because of your suffering.
This does not mean that you have to ignore your suffering. To evacuate pain, to transform your wounds, you first need to recognise the emotions that hurt you. If you listen to them, these disruptive emotions (fear, pain, anger, sadness, despair, etc.) will help you identify the exact location of your injury. They manifest to make you pay attention and to ask you to take notice of yourself and start to heal.
Wallowing in your pain would be a very bad idea. Get attached to your suffering and it will limit your universe and blind you to everything outside of suffering. It will try to trick you into adopting it as your new lifestyle, your new way of functioning and it will guide you away from your heart. It will lead you further and further away from your source until you will start to think that you no longer have a source, until you won’t be able to find the way back to yourself.
Suffering is a force that slows life down and it slows it down so you can take the time to heal. If you choose not to tend to your wounds, you will no longer be able to float along the flow of life.
Suffering is blockage. The more you convince yourself that suffering is inevitable, the more you will attract it and the more wounds you will puncture in your own vessel.
“We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.” – Ernest Hemmingway
You might know this expression. I quite like it in the interpretation of not trying to aspire to perfection, allowing yourself to make mistakes from time to time. These words can remind us too not take life too seriously.
I cannot agree, however, with the interpretation it receives all too often: Be proud of your scars, cherish your wounds. It’s good to have wounds, the more you have, the more easily you can access the light, the more easily you gain access to your true self…
That it just not true. It’s not by puncturing holes in your boat that you will journey more smoothly down the river… At the very best you will get very much delayed and at the worst you risk to sink to the bottom of the river. The goal of life is not to provoke new puncture wounds but to gather yourself together as much as possible. Yes, pain and suffering will intervene in your journey from time to time, but only to make you pay attention to the holes in your boat and allow you to continue the journey without sinking.
Having access to life’s flow depends on the question if you’re willing to work on the cause of your pain or not. The more you eliminate the sources of suffering from your life, the more easily your life will flow.
No need to sacrifice, to destroy or to deconstruct yourself to have access to the light or to understand life’s mysteries. Looking to destroy yourself is going against the grain of life itself, it’s an insult to life. You already die at the end of your life, no need for you to speed things up.
Leave suffering to build a loving relationship with happiness
Life is a choice, you choose to be born, to come here on earth and to live. The best thing you can do to honour this gift and the best way of living in harmony with your soul is to celebrate life. It’s by being happy, it’s when we feel happy and when we take pleasure in our journey that we get closer to unity, that we approach source, OUR source of light. Happiness and harmony are the main components of the soil you need to grow.
And yes, if I write this article today, it’s also because I was one of those people. I used to cultivate drame, melancholy and suffering when I was younger. Until one day I realised I was sinking my own boat. I stopped cultivating suffering and I started taking care of my holes (wounds) and thanks to that my boat is floating along the river nicely today.
I never once regretted my choice because I never learned more than these last couple of years: about myself, about life, about the world, about things that I thought were beyond my possibilities. Happiness has become a very powerful engine to my boat and it makes my life very rich and interesting today.
Nowadays, when I’m around my friends and family, I tell them I’m happy. I don’t even need to say it anymore, because it shows, I radiate happiness. I am happy: happy in life, happy in my relationship, happy with myself, happy with my activities. I don’t feel ashamed about showing my happiness to my loved-ones and I’m not afraid of hurting them with my happiness.
And you know what? They love my happiness, my happiness flirts with them and makes them want to aspire to happiness themselves. My happiness motivates them to end their relationship with suffering. Recently my happiness started venturing outside myself, it started occupying the space around me and contaminating other people. And that makes me even more happy!