Definitions: experience or be subjected to (something bad or unpleasant); tolerate; allow (someone) to do something
Synonyms: hurt, ache, be in pain, feel pain, tolerate, put up with, have, bear, stand, endure, allow, permit
When we think of the word ‘suffer’ we often think about the first definition listed above –being subjected to something bad, a state of being in pain, … the opposite of happiness. We may think that we are doing something wrong if we find ourselves suffering. We may be afraid of suffering and think it may consume us entirely if we get too close. So, we try our best to get rid of our suffering by watching Netflix or drinking or eating or trying to will the pain away. And when suffering inevitably returns we are once again left feeling as though we have “failed” at happiness. However, there is a school of thought that posits that being happy does not require an absence of suffering. On the contrary, the art of happiness is also the art of suffering well. Perhaps learning to acknowledge, embrace and understand our suffering would lead to less suffering in the end. So if you are willing, the next time you find yourself in a moment of suffering, try taking a deep breath and saying hello to your discomfort. See if you can care for your suffering in the same way a mother cares for her crying baby – embracing it without judgment.
“Most people are afraid of suffering. But suffering is a kind of mud to help the lotus flower of happiness grow. There can be no lotus flower without the mud.”
For more information check out “No Mud, No Lotus” by Thich Nhat Hanh
Rule: In order to be happy I must cure myself of suffering completely
Challenge: I can treat my suffering with tenderness and compassion and through this practice, learn to embrace moments of suffering as moments full of life