How to Choose Joy when Suffering is so Damn Easy.
Five days ago, I watched myself turn a challenging, yet necessary, conversation with my partner into a drama.
I watched myself take it personally. I saw it all happen.
I was hyper-aware that I was choosing conflict, choosing to stir the pot. I chose it anyway.
I let myself suffer, and then beat myself up about it for 48 hours, asking, “Why am I still addicted to suffering?”—which is essentially asking, “Why am I still human?”
Suffering is part of the human experience. It’s the darkness we need in order for there to be light. It’s necessary and okay. The danger occurs when suffering becomes unconscious or habitual—when we become addicted to it or our lives become defined by it.
I am not afraid to say (or type) these words: I am human, and I am addicted to suffering.
At times, it’s easy to feel like we’re all addicted to suffering, to drama. It can be so f*cking easy to play the victim, to say, “It’s her fault; it’s his fault; it’s their fault.” It’s much harder to take responsibility for our reality and say, “I created that; I attracted that; I made this bed and chose to lie in it.”
We’re not taught this in school. We don’t see this when we turn on the TV or go to the movies or speak to our leaders. We hear, see, speak, and smell suffering in our everyday lives. It’s our safety net. Our comfort zone. Our blanket we’ve had since day one.
And on the other end of the spectrum are those who live by the mantra: “We’re all one; everything is beautiful and fine.” Those hippies who live in denial and bet all their fairy dust on unicorns. Those who refuse to connect to what’s real in order to move forward.
So how do we break free? How do we get out of the sinkhole that we call suffering? How do we get our head out of our light-and-oneness-is-all-there-is filled asses?
We develop an awareness around it.
We watch as we choose to invite in drama, blow up a situation, take the sh*tty job we know in our gut feels wrong, go on a date with the guy who gives us weird signals, push ourselves past our physical limits, feed ourselves crappy food.
We give ourselves the freedom to choose.
We recognize that we have the choice to pick up that drink, pick that fight, or pick that partner. We recognize that we have the choice to suffer or to be free. We recognize that when we choose suffering, this is also okay and necessary for the world. The universe expresses itself in perfect totality. We always need both sides of the coin, both darkness and light.
When we choose, we are no longer victims.
We give ourselves permission to enjoy our drama, our vices, our addictions. When we are free to choose, we recognize the beauty that exists in choosing to not add more suffering to this world, yet not be in denial of the real horrors going on around us. We recognize that we need both duality and oneness. We need “me versus you” and “us and we.” We need darkness, and we need light. We need sun, and we need rain.
All of this, together, creates beauty and color. It gives us the ability to feel, to hurt, to love, to please, to rage, to be in joy, to fully experience the beauty that is being a human on this planet. We can bask in the sun and howl in grief at the rain, and through all of it, we have the ability to serve, connect, and love one another.
It’s a moment-to-moment choice. Choose suffering. Choose denial. Choose freedom.
Whichever you choose, choose to exist fully in this fleeting, human experience. Choose to live your life.
Author: Annabelle Blythe
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis
…is a new feature on Elephant Journal—enabling you to instantly share your mindful ideas, photos, art, YouTube videos/Instagram links & writings with our 5 million readers. Try it Now.