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The Secret to Understanding the Difference Between Suffering and Pain

I often catch myself wanting things to be different. Be it the outcome of a meeting, how long it took for someone to call me, or the latest COVID update.
 
I spend countless hours wanting different. And there’s a huge impact created by this wanting, this ‘noise’; an incessant state of suffering.
 
[How we want things to be] - [How we perceive things are] = Suffering.

Don't get suffering mixed up with pain. Pain isn’t a choice. Suffering is. We have control over our suffering.
 
Some may argue that wanting different is good. They associate this with growth. But don't mistake wanting the present situation to be different from having goals.

(Future) goals nourish. Not accepting a present situation depletes.
 
So, what do we do? Well, that’s a lifelong dance involving the rewiring of our feeling mind.

Lifelong because the emotion associated with suffering can’t quickly be reasoned.

Despite all this, there’s no need to be nihilistic. There is a path to ‘better’ handling of our suffering.
 
As Thich Nhat Hahn reminds us, “We should not be afraid of suffering. We should be afraid of only one thing, and that is not knowing how to deal with our suffering.” He continues, “The work of mindfulness is first to recognize and then to embrace the suffering with gentleness and compassion.”
 
We need to treat suffering with the same technique as a judo expert - transmuting its energy into recognition, acceptance, and growth. This recognition and acceptance, repeated over and over, will start to rewire our feeling brain, removing the label of suffering and helping us approach life with equanimity.
 
We shouldn't expect a suffering-free existence. We should focus on being mindful when we are suffering. Only then will this noise cease to work against us and provide the insight (into our egoic mind) that promotes growth.
 
The monumental difficulty of achieving this can only be outweighed by its (critical) importance to our mental well-being. But it can happen, one mindful moment at a time.
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