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Suffering and Happiness

By Charlie Badenhop
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A paradox is a kind of puzzle or riddle. A paradox is a thought, belief, or statement that appears to be contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.

From time to time we all get caught in "The paradoxical difference between what we think and what we feel." Another way to say this is, at times we all get caught in "The paradoxical difference between what we think and what we actually do."

You've come face to face with this paradox if you've ever said to yourself, "I know I really should be doing X (fill in the beneficial behavior of your choice), but for some reason I just can't get myself to do so."

Why is it that your thinking and your doing; your thinking and your feeling, sometimes seem to contradict each other? What is this contradiction about? I ask these questions now because I believe the answers we give can help us suffer less and be happier overall.

It seems to me that in the course of living our lives most of us lose touch with what will truly bring us happiness. We come to think that our happiness depends on other people, our accomplishments, and the wealth and power we obtain. We get a good job, marry a nice person, and perhaps even buy a new house, but still something is missing. Still something feels somehow "off".

I believe this is so because we have yet to understand what the conditions are that lead to our feeling fulfilled. Indeed, I believe it's our current concept of happiness that winds up preventing us from getting what we truly want and need. Borrowing from the concepts of Buddhism I offer you the following...

  1. Suffering exists. There's no way around it. From time to time we all suffer.
  2. Suffering has causes. The more you can understand and take responsibility for how it is you create your suffering the more you'll realize you are not a victim of life.
  3. Happiness is indeed possible. It might not always be "easy" to be happy, but happiness is always a possibility nonetheless.
  4. There's a path that leads to happiness. You maintain this path every time you're mindful of your experience, and thankful for what you do have.
  5. The path of happiness is invariably not a straight line. You need to follow the path life offers you, regardless of whether or not it appears to lead you straight ahead.
  6. Your intellect alone, is not enough to help you understand who you are, and what you truly need. The wisdom of your body and your emotional self also need to be listened to and followed.
  7. Nothing stays the same. Suffering and happiness are both ephemeral. Both will come and go many times over the course of your life.
  8. The reason why you're suffering has little to do with the circumstances of your life, and everything to do with your current model of the world. The longer you believe your emotional state is due to the current circumstances of your life, the more elusive you'll find happiness to be.
  9. Cultivating happiness leads to the discovery of who you truly are. Self-discovery and peace of mind go hand in hand.
  10. The better you understand who you truly are, the more you'll feel at home in the universe.
  11. Everything is just as it should be. Nothing more, and nothing less.
I wish you all the best, in your pursuit of happiness. Many wonderful experiences await you, and from time to time, a bit of suffering as well!
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