“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering”.
Think about it: how many times have you suffered today? Or if not today, what about this week? This month?
Human and basically all life on earth consists of suffering, of going through pain to achieve some goals or even just to survive. This undisputable fact then begs the question: Can you avoid suffering, can you live a life without struggle, without pain? The answer to this is clear, but what’s also very important to consider is that no pleasure in life can come without it. Everything we do either is struggle, causes struggle or is caused by struggle. There is no exception. Do you want to relax on your sofa, in front of your warm and comfy ingle and read a good book while drinking some of that delicious tea you bought earlier? That’d be pretty neat, wouldn’t it? Well, you’re going to have to earn the money to be able to buy those things first, which means working and that is widely accepted as a form of struggle, no matter what you do and how much fun you say you have doing it.
Happiness in life requires struggle. The solution lies in the acceptance and active engagement of these negative experiences. Never try to avoid it or try and trick your brain into believing you’re having fun, when you’re really not. One of the best examples in this regard is bodybuilding or staying fit in general. Let’s suppose you start your journey at 20 and you have that certain physique or some other goal in mind that you want to achieve. After years of rigorous training, eating well and doing everything you can, you have done it. You’ve reached your natural peak and everything from now on only serves to keep and preserve this body. No man on this planet who has been training for multiple years is seriously going to tell anyone that there was not one time they were struggling to get out of bed, off their sofa or whatever it is, only to still go out and hunt their dreams, even if they really didn’t want to that day. The longer this goes on, the harder it gets. In the future, you’re going to have to stop training or maybe just lower the weights, because your old body can’t take it anymore. It’s going to deteriorate and looking at it in the mirror doesn’t put that smile on your face anymore, knowing that everything you have done in the gym has granted you this.
Of course, it might mean pleasure in the meantime, but there’s no way of avoiding struggle on the way.
The things you own, end up owning you is another way of saying that everything balances itself out, which means that all happiness you create by suffering comes back to you and the amount of happiness never outweighs the amount of suffering. People can build the most beautiful cities in the most beautiful country, but there must be someone to maintain this beauty or else all that has gone into building it would have been worthless.
Now, there’s no way around it: you must choose what you want to endure or which goal is worth it to you. This can never work with materialistic things such as cars, because once you have them, you might be satisfied for a few months or even years, but satisfaction is always finite and sooner or later, new problems or new means of suffering will appear. To be exact, they have to appear since otherwise, as already stated, your life would become meaningless.
This means you have to choose things that mean something, or in other words: a greater cause. To do so, not only do you have to ask yourself what is important to you, but also assess whatever that is and put it into perspective. For example, if you choose something that you can actively control, then that’s good. If it’s socially constructive and helps your people or your country, even better, since that is something higher than yourself and serves a greater purpose.
When we feel that we’re choosing our problems, we feel empowered. The other way around, not so much. There’s a difference between you completing that marathon because you want to or someone putting a gun to your head and forcing you to. The pride and happiness after you cross the finish line is something that can not be bought. Altogether, I think it can be said that intrinsic goals are always better than extrinsic, materialistic ones.
When choosing the way we want to suffer, we can experience the most meaningful moments in life. Things we can tell our grandchildren about and that will be with us forever, once we leave this earth. Now, to close this with Sigmund Freud:
“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”