optional joy

I came across a quote recently that has struck such a deep chord I need to share:

“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”

There is so much truth and richness in this set of words. We can all relate to pain. Physical pain, emotional pain, sometimes a longing and often accompanied by different layers of hurt and discomfort. Pain can be acute or a dull ache that never seems to end. We feel pain fully in our body and often at a very specific location.

Suffering though is something quite different. It’s wholly a manifestation of our mind, not our body. Once we realise that we create our suffering, we might also realise that we too can end our own suffering. Once we’ve flung ourselves onto the constant wheel of suffering it can seem impossible to jump off. We feel bad, the world is no longer a friendly place and we’re convinced that things won’t change. And the more certain we are of our condition, the more likely it will continue to flourish.

But perhaps you can catch yourself just for a moment and examine your spiraling thoughts and stories. Where are they coming from? As it turns out, the external world isn’t trying to cause you harm. Instead, you are the only person putting together a string of stories in your head and turning them into your own private movie to be played out across the screen of life. Once you catch a glimpse of this reality you are now in the driver’s seat and can change the direction of your thoughts.

As it turns out, what we experience depends on our own self directed outlook. So, do you know where to look for JOY versus suffering?