Joy and Suffering | A Whole Human Experience

As much as joy and happiness are a part of the human experience so is suffering.

Show me a human who has never experienced some form of suffering and I will be shocked. Everyone faces his or her own form of suffering at some point. Self-doubt, loss, abuse, failure, neglect, hunger—there are a thousand different ways we might experience suffering in a lifetime.  

If suffering (in some form or fashion) is an inevitable aspect of the human condition, then why do we make life choices in avoidance of suffering? Why do we put so much emphasis on trying to protect ourselves and our children from any form of pain or suffering? 

Each experience of suffering is unique and I believe each recovery is a gift. 

To be clear, I'm not saying anyone should intentionally create situations that lead to suffering.  There's enough suffering in the human condition; we don't need to purposefully create more.  Rather, I'm suggesting, "Can we look at our approach to suffering a little differently?"

Can we accept that no matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, we will experience suffering (and so will our children)?  Instead of doing everything we can to avoid it and everything we can to protect our children from it, could we accept it as a fundamental part of the whole human experience?  Could we focus our time on developing communities strong enough to withstand heartbreak and continue to thrive in the face of adversity? 

My personal avoidance strategy included playing in the "safe zone." I made choices that limited my risk of exposure to pain and suffering.  So how did all that time and energy trying to avoid suffering work out for me?  If you're reading this blog, you know I have certainly experienced suffering. 

There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.
— Carl Jung

I've experienced divorce, the passing of grandparents, my daughter, and my father.  Did I really think staying in my comfort zone would protect me from all the possible "scary" things in life? Looking back, I wonder what I missed, while trying to avoid potential pain.

I've always admired people who pushed beyond their physical limits and embraced pain associated with physical endurance.  "No pain, no gain," they would say.  Professional athletes, marathon runners, Olympians, those who pushed past their fear of injury, of failure, and managed to move past their edge, their "safe zone."  All in pursuit of their visions of greatness.

Can we apply that same "push" to go beyond our emotional boundaries and edges?

I think the answer is yes. I'd been holding on so tightly to my vision of a simple life, hiding in the shadows attempting not to disturb the world around me. I realize now that I hadn't fully been living. I'd only been scratching the surface.

Adeline taught me that love and passion will always outweigh the fear of heartbreak and of suffering. If I know suffering is inevitable and it will find me again, then nothing stops me from taking those risks anymore.  In fact, I've wanted to write a blog for quite some time, long before I began to put pen to paper, but in an effort to avoid any pain associated with it I choose not to create.  I held myself back. Now I'm making a choice this year to live free and to embrace love. 

Follow the path to love and accept that there will be suffering along the way.  Walk with open eyes and an open heart and the love you'll find on your journey will forever change you.

How do you avoid suffering? Is there a decision or action that you feel compelled to make and yet you hold yourself back out of a fear of suffering? 

Does life feel out of control? Do you feel overwhelmed and anxious? Check out this free guide on How to Calm the Chaos After Loss.