What did you make of your Suffering this Year?

Did you know that US Thanksgiving is basically the worst time to travel in the entire year? Why?

Whole slews of people are going back to see families they don’t get along with, to overeat food they don’t really like, and getting stranded at airports thanks to various weather conditions.

So, it’s Thanksgiving this week, in the US, and you might be suffering.

4 Quotes on Suffering:

“The mind has to transmute its recollection of the various earth-stages it has lived through into a possession; that which was once joy and sorrow should now become knowledge.”   -Burckhardt, Welthistoriche Betrachtungen 

Nietzsche – “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”

Spinoza -“Affectus, qui passio est, desinit esse passio similaque eius claran et distinctam formanus ideam”

” Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.”

“Tears are no shame-because that means you have the greatest of courage- the courage to suffer.” -Frankl

Here are some quotes from Victor Frankl, to think about the nature of suffering, and our relationship to it. He writes,

“What you expect from life does not matter- What does life expect from you? You are being questioned by life, daily and hourly- and your answer must consist of right action and right conduct.

Sometimes you can shape your fate by action.

Other times you may contemplate and realize assets in that way.

Sometimes you may simply need to accept what is. If it is your fate to suffer, then this is your single and unique task.”

Your opportunity is the way in which you bear your suffering.

What are you driven by? The will to power? The will to pleasure? Or the will to meaning?

It is a dangerous misconception to strive towards a tensionless state. You really need a struggle for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.

The danger with modern psychiatry is to try to medicate away that feeling of despair, or meaninglessness.

The mass neurotic triad- Depression, aggression and addiction are caused by the existential vacuum underneath.

The meaning of life differs from person to person, day to day and hour to hour.

Meaning can be created through doing a deed, or creating a work, by experiencing something or someone (By experiencing culture, nature, goodness, truth, beauty or by loving someone) or by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.

Do not try to gain pleasure or avoid pain, but see meaning in all of it.

Suffering is not necessary to find meaning-in fact if we can remove the cause of suffering, we should, whether it is psychological, biological or political. To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.

This is why Positive Psychology is Nonsense

The current positive psychology movement stresses the idea that people ought to be happy- that unhappiness is a symptom of maladjustment. This increases the burden of unavoidable unhappiness, creating unhappiness about being unhappy.

Positive psychology basically states that you cannot be proud of your suffering, to consider it ennobling rather than degrading, so that you are not only unhappy, but ashamed of being unhappy. -Edith Weisskopf-Joelson

The past is not lost, but irrevocably stored. Each year, you have the reality of work done and love loved, but also sufferings bravely suffered-you may even be most proud of these sufferings, though they are not the things that inspire envy.

So, what’s the Tragic Triad?

Optimism in spite of the tragic triad: 1) Pain 2) Guilt 3) Death

The tragic triad gives you the opportunity to:

Turn suffering into an achievement and accomplishment

Derive from guilt the opportunity to change yourself for the better

Derive from life’s transitory nature an incentive to take responsible action.

How did I suffer this year?

Well, I chose not to travel on thanksgiving, and see my family earlier, so I avoided that suffering. However, I suffered in other ways.

I suffered with the pain of actually putting real boundaries on relationships. Having to say, NO, I will not host you. NO I will not see you. NO I do not want this friendship anymore. And I felt tremendously guilty about this. And it was very painful. But then the pain was less and less, and then it went away entirely, and I felt so light and free.

I suffered with the less than successful pipeline for my business, and lived very frugally for several months.

I suffered as I learned my dear friend would move away in 2018.

I suffered through dating the wrong people (but I did learn from all of these experiences too, what my values are.)

I suffered as I had to have hard conversations with two male colleagues- and give them an idea of how they were messing up.

I suffered as I went to an event that showed me how to open my heart with people, deeply looking into their eyes, and I realized how guarded I had been, and how not opening my heart had been hurting me. How I had been living in shallow relationships for years. That was such a painful realization. I resolved to truly laugh all my laughter, cry all of my tears, and keep as authentic as possible in my relationships from now on.

I suffered as I looked at my treatment of my little brother, and how I had been putting my judgments on his life on him for years, and how that had hurt our relationship. How I always saw him as someone to be pitied. And then it was drawn to my attention that pity is just hatred sugar coated. OUCH.

How did YOU suffer this year?

What meaning did you get from your suffering?


Aphorisms to live by, from Nassim Nicolas Taleb and Victor Frankl

More Victor Frankl Quotes from Man’s Ultimate Search for Meaning

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