Joyful Suffering?

I doubt there is one of you out there reading this who is not currently struggling with one or more aspects of your life.  It seems to be a sign of the times that we are all being asked to deal with extraordinary difficulties and challenges. From the economy to relationships to health issues, there seems to be no end to the onslaught of problems needing not only our attention but also our strength and our resolve.

Why is it suddenly so difficult and why are all those tried and true ways of handling things not working?

In a word: Authenticity

We are, collectively, waking up from a long sleep, of sorts, where partial fixes and inauthentic behavior were good enough to get us by….until the next time.  Just what is inauthentic behavior?  It’s living in greater or lesser degrees of denial. It’s settling for less than what you instinctively know to be the highest good. It’s putting forth less than your best effort. It’s saying one thing and living another.

When you’re asleep… unconscious…you are somehow less than responsible. You don’t have to feel everything that you’re experiencing. You can go numb, so to speak, through denial or distraction or drama or all of the above.  It’s a way to behave with varying degrees of integrity and temporarily bypass the consequences of your decisions and your actions.

The operative word being “temporarily.”
All you’re really doing when you’re un-conscious and acting inauthentically, is delaying the consequences of your actions, not eliminating them. The inevitability of cause and effect is a fact both scientifically and spiritually. The old saying “no pain, no gain” is true. So what we really accomplish by participating in inauthentic behavior in order to circumvent the pain associated with growth is simply delaying growth. Period. Of course, behind all the effort to delay is fear.  We’re afraid to feel, literally, the pain associated with growing so we trade progress for paralysis and call it life.

Which is why all suffering is joyful. I love the Buddhist saying that the purpose of pain is not to make you suffer…the purpose of pain is to bring you present. Or, you could say, to wake you up. Wake you up from a state of un-conscious behavior to a conscious state of authentic behavior wherein you feel everything and take responsibility for everything you create by thought, word and deed. This is the definition of an authentic life.

So, now that we’re smarter and more awake around all of this, let’s revisit all these difficulties and challenges you’re facing in your life right now.  Surrender to them. Feel the pain associated with them. By your surrender and the accompanying pain, you are becoming fully alive, awakened and conscious. You are embarking upon an authentic life wherein there is no room for half-hearted attempts or untruthfulness and where the pain of growth is eclipsed by the joy of being your authentic Self.

So, suffer these challenges joyfully and use the pain to awaken in you the aliveness for which you’ve hungered. The alternative, to stay unconscious, is of an old reality that can no longer provide you the nourishment you need.

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