On Suffering

How do I suffer?

  • In the mornings from a poor night’s sleep.
  • Mobility issues in my hips and shoulders. Back and neck pain.
  • Wanting things that I do not or cannot have.

Nearly all my suffering is either physical or mental. Occasionally, I suffer emotionally. Emotional suffering I usually include with mental and falls into the “I want but cannot have” category.

I must live with my suffering. It is generally accepted as a natural part of my life. It is what it is. But should that be the case?

A poor night’s sleep.

There are those who are adamant that this is a condition associated with getting older. Yet, I have seen older adults that do not struggle with this. Why is it only some that have this problem? Why do I have this problem? I can’t imagine this being a genetic flaw. And if is not genetic, then is it self-induced?

Reasons why my poor sleep performance is my fault:

  • Slept too long the morning before.
  • Not enough activity during the day.
  • Too much stimulation (or stimulants) in the evening.
  • Too much food/water before bed.
  • Alcohol. Click here for a wonderful Art of Manliness podcast on whether to drink or not.

If I check any of the boxes above, then I am ultimately to blame. If I don’t do anything to change these behaviors, then I will suffer.

Mobility and pain.

When it comes to mobility and pain issues, I must look to the fix. As we age, these problems will only get worse if they are not addressed. Mobility issues can be corrected, but it takes work, consistency, and patience. Pain, in my case, can be remedied through strength training. If not, the only other solution is surgery. With these two options, I will take strength training any day.

Unfulfilled wants and desires.

“What is the proper limits to one’s wealth,” Seneca asked. His twofold answer is to have what is essential and then to have what is enough. Beginning with the essential, do I and my family have it? Well, that depends on what is essential. At one time, essential meant food, shelter, and clothes on the back. Today, some would consider medicine, internet, television, phone, a car for each family member of driving age, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and a whole host of “I can’t live without it” consumer products.

My family has food, shelter, and clothes. Some of the extras are important. Medicine to treat illness, a phone to communicate, and reliable transportation will certainly make life easier. But do I need the latest phone to play the latest game, the newest car that passes the “socially acceptable” test, or the game-changing drug that will melt all the bodyfat away? I don’t need any of these, I only need what is enough. Constantly chasing after the newest and what everybody else has will leave me always wanting no matter how much I already have.

Suffering is necessary until you realize it is unnecessary.

Eckhart Tolle

I don’t have to suffer. It is not a requirement for existence on this planet. I can analyze, I can correct, and I can desire less. I might not be able to remove all my pain and hardship, but I can take the steps to eliminate most of it from my life. Rather than being overwhelmed by a multitude of suffering coming from a multitude of different areas, I can target them individually until the majority are removed. Suffering is only necessary if I allow it to be.

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