Our suffering comes from our thoughts, desires, convictions about what life should be, what should happen, not from what is actually happening. Suffering will cease as we let go of this clinging & craving for things that aren’t. When we experience grief, we want back what we lost.
When we are angry with someone, we want this person to behave differently than they do. We experience anxiety about (imaginary) things we do not want to happen. In all these cases, you are wasting energy fighting reality – in the last case, even a reality that does not exist and most likely will never exist.
The unthinkable suffering Victor Frankl experienced in the concentration camps left him with wisdom where death was close, because he was able to maintain purpose, meaning in his need to survive this suffering. In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, you’ll find his endless wisdom that prescribes us to find meaning in the things that we want to believe should not be so. Once we find that meaning, we know that everything is as it should be – even the bad experiences have a purpose.
As we stop trying to change reality, as we let go of our thoughts of how this world ought to be for us… That’s when we gain happiness in return.
Our consciousness is relative – how many times have you felt bad about an experience only to realize later on that it was good it happened? The break up with that boy-/girlfriend, losing a job opportunity only to find a better one, the relief you felt after a difficult discussion that you had been postponing.
We can learn from this – happiness stems from the immaterial, from learning, from growth, from appreciation, while material items give little and certainly no long-lasting satisfaction.
Our “existence” is not defined by our current physical being: most cells in our body get replaced within days or months. Your body change, your brain is equally malleable.
The Buddha’s and Victor Frankl’s wisdom may speak to us, but how do we achieve this, in our daily lives?
If you are looking for a practical entrance to this kind of thinking, check out Byron Katie at thework.com. For me, her “judge-your-neighbour” worksheet gives you all the training you need: it frees your thinking, helps you release convictions, limiting beliefs, and clinging to what’s no longer useful.
And, you’re very welcome to connect with me if you want to add more tools to your toolbox for a good life.