Defending Your Suffering? (February 2017 Blog Entry)
I used to think that everyone wants to be happy, but I was wrong. Some people are actually very attached to their suffering.
Charlie is building another house because the previous 30 have all collapsed. Judy lives across the street. She has a solid foundation on her home and a great reputation for building strong, stable houses. She’s been watching Charlie struggle for years, so she offers him some insight to boost his potential, but he immediately says, “No! The fact that all my construction attempts collapse is my legacy — that’s what I’m known for. I’m the guy who keeps screwing up; that’s who I am. I am a failure. Always have been and always will be. Everyone in my family is like that; we can’t help who we are. Why are you trying to change me? Can’t you just accept the fact that some people can’t build houses as structurally sound as yours? Trust me, I’ve been trying to do it for years; it’s useless.”
This is the same reaction many people have to the suggestion that happiness is a choice. When advised to meditate or cultivate gratitude for what they already have (instead of always complaining and striving for more), or to learn ways to control their emotions rather than having their moods affect their behavior, they resist any notion that something can be done. In fact, whining about their lives and the state of the world without suggesting a solution has become such a core part of their identity that they are terrified of life without drama or chaos. It’s almost like they are addicted to stress and suffering because it’s all they know. And when people fear change, then even a change for the better can be terrifying. Many would rather stay in unhealthy relationships, continue working at jobs they hate, not move to the city of their dreams, change their diets to feel better, or learn to relax, all because they find more comfort in the familiar (dysfunctional as it may be), than excitement for the potential of a happier existence.
So, no.. we don’t all want to be happy, calm, peaceful, or serene (at least not on a conscious level). Some people truly believe that their pain, rage, intolerance, and superiority complex was earned, is justifiable, and perhaps even inevitable.
This has been the biggest struggle for me, personally, and the hardest lesson for me to learn: to be okay with the fact that many people aren't willing to make happiness a priority in their lives. They would go as far as defend and even wear their struggles as a badge of honor. So I have learned that I can’t want something more for someone than they want it for themselves (be it health, happiness, serenity, or clarity). I would actually be creating my own suffering if I refuse to let go.
So as I watch well-intentioned people trying to put out a political fire with fuel, I remind myself (and you), that you can’t fight darkness with darkness. I’m not suggesting that you turn a blind eye, but regardless of which side you’re on, please be the light. Do not operate from a place of anger or hatred to protest against anger and hatred. I invite you, again, to promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. May we all stand together FOR something, not AGAINST something.
Look within until you find where love and compassion resides, and let THAT fuel all of your actions: kindness and compassion toward yourself and everyone else. We will never be able to live at peace with others if we can’t be at peace with ourselves.. It would be like trying to build a solid house with broken bricks.
With much love from your brother,
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