Pain and Suffering

Pain is our all-time on-line guide that ensures that we stay within the safety limits and gives our body a chance to recover fully. But suffering is a different ball game altogether. Let’s understand the difference. Pain is immediate — the actual meaning of ‘immediate’ is a sensation that does not need a medium — im-mediate. Suffering on the other hand is not immediate, it needs the medium of our thoughts and emotions. Suffering needs the active participation of the individual because suffering is what we feel about ‘what is’. Wow! This means that

Though pain is compulsory, suffering is optional.

Suffering is directly proportionate to the difference between ‘what is’ and what you feel ‘should have been’. It is the difference between your expectation and your reality; the greater the difference the more the suffering. You get to choose how much you want to suffer because you get to decide your idea of ‘what should have been’. Lower your expectations to meet reality and suffering stops. The lesser your expectations from life and others, the lesser you suffer. It is known as the virtue of having low standards. Now life and reality do not control how I feel; I am in control.

A second very important area in which I can take control is the amount of time I spend on high-lighting the difference between my expectations and my reality. Time spent includes thought- time, talk-time (self-talk and discussion), reading about it, choice of news channels, media, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and so on. Don’t invest your thought-time and talk-time in idle discussion. I have made a simple rule for myself.

I refuse to discuss matters in which my opinion does not matter.

That leaves me with a lot of time to invest in matters where my opinion and actions matter.

The adjectives that we use to describe our situation have a lot to do with how we feel and how much we suffer; isolation or solitude, stuck at home or quality time at home, nothing to do or all the time to do what I want to do. Don’t know what to do with myself or time for introspection. Remember

Whatever you pay attention to — grows.

What to pay attention to is your choice; it has always been your choice.

Now we come to the most interesting flip side of the coin. Even our happiness is directly proportionate to the difference between ‘what is’ and ‘what we feel should have been’. Having low needs and expectations gives me a feeling of always having more than I need; a feeling of abundance. It makes me feel happy about life. Reality is the same but I am happy and grateful to God and existence. It brings a smile to my face.

Suffering or happiness, the choice is mine; it has always been my choice. I just choose to be happy.

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