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Day 14: The irony of misery making

October 28, 2023

They say one of the things that makes us unhappiest is the pursuit of happiness.

Yesterday I wrote about advice I found useful to “stop making misery out of everything”. It started me thinking about how I currently make misery, and one of the ways is in thinking about how things “should” be or how I should be feeling or acting.

Not long after I wrote it, I realised the irony of the whole thing – that part of my misery comes from the expectation that I “should” be able to live joyfully.

I’m getting it wrong… is the basic thought I have.

The Practical Implications

I realise the first step isn’t about stopping the expectations or the “shoulds”, “musts” or “coulds”. It’s about meeting myself in that place with compassion.

It’s about noticing that I’m causing myself misery and offering myself some compassion to help me through it. 

This morning I listened to a lecture from a Buddhist monk who explained that when he first became a monk, he was told that the Buddha never experienced suffering. As his learning and experience increased, he understood that the Buddha also experienced suffering just like everyone else, because suffering is a part of being human.

But it is only a part. Not all of it. 

And the weight of the suffering is eased when we meet it with compassion. So then, the art of expressing joy must, I guess, include a joyfulness for the fact that our suffering helps us cultivate compassion – for without the suffering, we’d never have to learn compassion for ourselves or other people. 

Again, I’ve got a lot to learn about how to LIVE this way but instinctively, it feels like this is the right track – the track where all experiences are welcomed; some for the immediate and obvious joy or pleasure they bring and others for the lessons they carry within them.

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