Pain is Inevitable, but Suffering is Optional

The title is a phrase that I just heard today while listening to Haruki Murakami‘s book “What I talk about when I talk about running”. It’s Murakami’s memoir, a book about being professional writer and a (amateur) runner. Chris Guillebeau, who I just got to know of about 2 weeks ago, talked about this book(Chris is a big fan of Murakami) in his report “279 Days to Overnight Success“. I’ve read most of Murakmi’s novels, but didn’t know this one partly because I had not gone back to Japan for a few years. I immediately checked the local library and got the book on CD – my favorite way of “reading” books these days during my commute. It was strange listening to this book translated in English – I tried to imagine how it’s written in Japanese, the original language, while listening to the story.

cliffrunnerThe “Suffering is optional” philosophy spoke to me very loudly, as it is one of the many ways to describe what I’ve been learning since last June. You don’t control what happens to you, you control how you choose to feel about it. Reacting vs Responding. Blame vs Responsibility. Victim mindset vs Self-Reliance. Since this is a blog about how to create a peaceful family, let’s think about how this applies to the relationship. Suppose you are in a relationship. No matter how much you love this person, or he/she loves you back, at some point you’ll have a fight. Having disagreements are just part of being in a relationship. It does not matter how perfect you are for each other, or how eveloved you are as an individual. I’d even say it’s healthy to have disagreements every now and then, it just means that you are two different people, not a clone of the other person. During the fight or arguments, you will probably feel the pain of having to go through it as a part of being in a relationship, but you have an option not to make youself suffer because of it. You always have a choice. If the act of suffering serves you, by all means do that – for example, if it motivates you to do something good for yourself, such as go out and exercise to clenase the negative energy etc. But if suffering is so severe that you are tired of being yourself, or don’t know what you want anymore, or you get yourself sick, broke or miserable, then it’s time to do something different. It is essential to learn how to put youself first and meet your needs, and express your needs to your partner in a condusive tone of the voice. I know this could be really hard especially in the heat of fighting. It always goes back to knowing yourself and being aware. You don’t have to suffer. You have a power to choose in any situation.

One Comment on “Pain is Inevitable, but Suffering is Optional

  1. Well,
    I’m not sure I necessarily agree with the first part of the title that Pain is inevitable, but I do agree that suffering is optional.

    If you are talking about emotional pain and relate that to a feeling, I think based on what I have come to discover and learn through self reflection and the UYO, and LYO courses that I have taken that you choose to feel the way you want to feel and hence you could choose to feel pain or not. In regards to the suffering, I look at suffering as the choosing to feel pain on an on going basis, like feeling down on yourself, or feeling like you don’t have any control over your situation. And hence I agree with your thoughts that only you can really decide when you want to start or stop feeling this way and no one else really, when you really start and think about it.