How many times have you heard someone say the words “That’s life” after something bad has happened? Quite often I bet. Other takes on this phrase are things like “Sh*t Happens” and “Tough luck”. For some reason, we have adopted this attitude that negative experiences are a natural part of life. We accept that we might have bad luck from time to time, and don’t expect life to be perfect.
There are two reasons why we think this way. The first is major ideologies that have shaped our world today, and the other is a collective attempt at rationalization that mistakingly leads to something very irrational.
Whether you like it or not, North America’s laws and values are heavily influenced by Christianity.
People generally accept the values of refraining from stealing, killing, committing adultery and so on. Also in Christianity is the idea that suffering is part of our human identity, and that we need God to cure it. Many other religions and philosophies that have shaped North America have similar ideas about suffering. Existentialism is flatly open about human suffering.
Humanism tries to avoid it by encouraging people to grow and achieve. So it’s no wonder that most people today accept suffering as part of life.
The other factor that has contributed greatly is when people want to gain some perspective on life, they want a way to deal with the down points in life. So they opt to accept it, and take it in stride, the “Sh*t Happens” attitude. It’s a quick way to deal with problems and move on quickly. But by moving on, they aren’t really stopping to look at the problem, instead, they are just writing it off, and not dealing with it. So it’s inevitable that the problem will reappear later. It’s the easy way out.
Can we procrastinate forever?
With all that being said, it’s safe to say that the majority of people accept suffering as an inevitable part of life. Almost nobody questions this. We seem to live in a state where we continually promise ourselves that we will take a breath later, deal with it later. But suffering is something that can take hold of you. And by looking at the sources of this ‘human suffering’ we can find no logical reason for it. It is unnecessary.
Let’s say that (and this could very well be true) the amount of time we spend suffering can be considered the polar opposite of time spent in a state of happiness. To bring to mind the Yin / Yang symbol, to suffer and to be happy are one and the same. They are both states of mind that many people believe are unchangeable conditions. In reality, they are chosen by the individual.
You can have everything you want and still suffer, and you can have nothing you want and still be happy. Money, objects, success, relationships, and legacies have nothing to do with happiness or suffering. You can choose to be happy and you can choose to suffer. This is the bottom line. It’s a choice you have to make for yourself.