Suffering or Joy? Which Will You Choose?


Each and every one of us is living a unique life experience. Life can be an exhausting adventure at times, with its endless ups and downs and perpetual plot twists. There’s a defining moment during childhood when our innocence is unavoidably lost and we come to realize that life isn’t always so rosy.

But is life really a struggle? Or is this belief a construct of our society? We suffer because we expect things to go a certain way, and when they don’t meet our expectations we believe life is somehow working against us. Life is happening to us rather than for us. Instead of adjusting our limiting ideas and attitudes, we accept our circumstances and get trapped in our own misery. 99% of the time we create our own suffering. It’s an internal happening that can only be remedied by an internal change.

Life isn’t a continual struggle, nor is it meant to always be joyful. Life is life. Animals go about living no matter what. They don’t drown in their discontent and dissatisfaction as humans do. They ride the wave of life. They continue on breathing despite the unexpected events, despite the constant changes of the world around them. They don’t get crushed by the waves. They don’t get discouraged by the impermanence of life and the never-ending ebb and flow.

The problem is that we haven’t yet been able to harness the incredible power of our highly-evolved human brain. Most of the time we’re controlled by our own mind in the form of habits and beliefs. We also let our raw emotions rule over logical thinking and reasoning. Our brain’s incredible ability to create new neural connections allows us to rewire those old habits and change those limiting beliefs.

Ignorance or a general lack of wisdom is one of our greatest challenges as a species. We must be open to learning and be willing to change our views on things. You have that ability as well. No matter what kind of pain or struggle you’re going through, there’s always a way to help dissipate it by re-framing your views on how life is supposed to be. I’m not suggesting that you become an emotionless robot. Allowing yourself to feel the feels, to grieve and to feel sorrow is human and healthy.

The first thing you must do is identify your struggles. Become aware of what is creating dissatisfaction in your life. Are you unhappy with a personal relationship? Feeling stuck in a soul-sucking job? Living in a depressing environment? Concerned about your declining health? Suffering from chronic pain? Write them all down on a piece of paper. Don’t edit yourself. Just write down all the challenges that you’re facing.

Once you’ve identified your struggles, now you can work towards eliminating them and thus alleviating your suffering. Cultivate the willingness to remove these hardships from your life. Be open to changing your attitudes and beliefs about how life is supposed to be according to everyone else, but most importantly yourself. Don’t limit yourself and be open to the possibility that life can be better.

Now take that piece of paper, light a match and set fire to it. Set an intention to face your struggles, and to begin the process of erasing them from your most precious life. Vow to never give up until they blow away like smoke in the breeze.

This insight was inspired by the book The Backdoor to Enlightenment by Za Rinpoche and Ashley Nebelsieck, and Sadhguru’s talk about suffering or joy. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this post and that you’ve found some comfort in these words. I hope they inspire you to engage in life and help create positive changes for you and those around you.

With love and admiration,


Self development

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