My first blog, post-cancer treatment and prophylactic double mastectomy with reconstruction, was a call to find Joy in the midst of Pain. Well, here’s yet another way to look at living a full life: Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. You may beg to differ given the global state of affairs and what seems to be the unceasing deluge of seen and unseen Pain and Suffering . I am not arguing that truth. What I am suggesting is to recognize and embrace what little control we really have over life’s circumstances. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. To choose not to suffer can be incredibly difficult. I, by no means, want to convey that all you need to do is try the power of positive thinking and “poof”, no more suffering. It’s not that easy.
Yet, what other options do we have in this thing called “life”? Take it or leave it, we are the only animals that are capable of insight. We have the ability to be self-aware. This is a blessing and a curse. Our perception of our experiences defines our interpretation of our experiences. Choosing to interpret pain as suffering is natural. Choosing to interpret pain as anything other than suffering takes work. Researchers have studied the resilience of those who have survived unimaginable trauma. They are resilient because they do not view themselves as a victim of their circumstances. Assigning blame for what happened may bring temporary relief. It distracts us from looking at ourselves. Accepting what “is” requires coming to peace with the reality of the situation. It’s only then can we choose to suffer or survive.