What do I mean when I say, “Find a worthwhile reason to suffer.”
What I have to say is a summary of chapter 7 of the book, Everything is F*cked by Mark Manson.
The chapter starts with some academic studies that prove that no matter what the circumstances of our lives we will never be absolutely blissful and happy. As long as the ego is present life will be suffering and there will always be something to complain about.
This is in fact the first of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism – Life is suffering.
We are meant to suffer. It is the established order of the Universe. The only way out is to attain enlightenment or Nirvana.
Given the fact that most of us are not aiming for enlightenment in this lifetime what are we to do to live our lives wisely.
The answer is – Don’t pursue your happiness. Instead of that find a worthwhile reason to suffer. Find a purpose that will make your suffering worthwhile.
You cannot hide from suffering. You can hide from life but not from suffering. Suffering will catch you out.
And in the process of hiding from suffering you will miss out of the growth and maturity that comes from a life well lived and which only suffering can give us.
So don’t pursue your happiness. The American Constitution has made the pursuit of happiness a basic part of its values but following this advice is disastrous. It is a recipe for a childish attitude that complains that the Universe is not dedicated to making me happy.
As the Bible says:
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
Also Rumi has some eloquent advice in the link below:
Instead of pursuing your happiness find a worthwhile reason to suffer. It may be a career, your family, seeking God, social service, a worthwhile hobby like music, martial arts and so on and on.
I’ll end this article with a few worthwhile quotes from the book above:
Because you can’t get rid of pain— pain is the universal constant of the human condition. Therefore, the attempt to move away from pain, to protect oneself from all harm, can only backfire. Trying to eliminate pain only increases your sensitivity to suffering, rather than alleviating your suffering. It causes you to see dangerous ghosts in every nook, to see tyranny and oppression in every authority, to see hate and deceit behind every embrace.
… Or, as the German philosopher, Schopenhauer, once brilliantly put it:
Just as a stream flows smoothly as long as it encounters no obstruction, so the nature of man and animal is such that we never really notice or become conscious of what is agreeable to our will; if we are to notice something, our will has to have been thwarted, has to have experienced a shock of some kind. On the other hand, all that opposes, frustrates and resists our will, that is to say all that is unpleasant and painful, impresses itself upon us instantly, directly and with great clarity. Just as we are conscious not of the healthiness of our whole body but only the little place where the shoe pinches, so we think not of the totality of our successful activities but of some insignificant trifle or other which continues to vex us.
The point is, not only is there no escaping the experience of pain, but pain is the experience.
You might like to read the relevant chapter of the Manson’s book. It will be worth your time. I don’t agree with all that Manson says but this chapter is good.
Also I have written about the reasons why pursuing your happiness is unwise earlier in this blog. Please do a search for term Pursuit of happiness in the search box below.
I’ll end here. Please explore this blog for more articles that will interest you and let me have your comments. Feedback from my readers keeps me going.