A Note on Suffering
This morning my two-year old son had a complete breakdown and cried all the way to daycare, all because I made him put on shoes before leaving the house. Over the past two years, my wife and I have forgone date nights, lost tremendous amounts of sleep, and felt constantly worried about keeping this tiny human being happy and healthy. Despite all this hardship, the meaning and purpose he adds to our lives transcends anything we’ve ever experienced.
Much has been written on suffering, and most of it can be boiled town to two core tenants.
- Needless suffering removes value and meaning from life. If suffering can be prevented or eradicated, it is worthwhile to do so.
- Unavoidable suffering adds value and meaning to life, but only if that suffering is tied to a core purpose.
If you are suffering, ask yourself if the suffering can be prevented or removed. If the answer is yes, take steps to remove your suffering or at least prevent further suffering from occurring in the future.
If your suffering is unavoidable, consider how it relates to your core purpose as a human being. For most parents of two-year-olds, suffering is unavoidable. The purpose I derive from my suffering is that one day my son will be old enough to understand that true love means placing the well being of your beloved ahead of your own. My unavoidable suffering for my son is the purest expression of true love I can offer.
For more on suffering and meaning, read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.