2 Reasons Why Other’s Suffering Can Bring You Hope

2 Reasons Why Other’s Suffering Can Bring You Hope

Why does it matter if you choose to eat a bag of crisps when you are not hungry and pay no attention to eating them? Why does it matter if you work a lot? Why does it matter if you think too much and have minimal emotions?

Sometimes, those things don’t matter. But if you are questioning whether they matter then perhaps they do.

It can feel like there are big gaping holes in your life. Even if, on the face of it, you appear to have it all. Frantically, you keep looking for new things to fill those holes; promotion, new job, new country, new partner, new anything!

Except, none of those things really change those holes for long.

In a sense, those holes might just be another aspect of being human. Look around you, without judgement, and you may see that people from all walks of life; backgrounds, ages, nationalities, careers, carry a suffering and / or emptiness of some kind within them.

At first glance that doesn’t sound very comforting right? But it does bring some hope and here are two reasons why:

1) It means you are not alone

No one wants to be judged and yet every one has the potential to judge. Especially when you feel vulnerable. How many times have you found yourself thinking along the following lines?

They are more messed up than me. I shouldn’t feel the way I do because they had it worse. That person had an easy life. I would swap with them. They don’t know how easy they have it. That person’s had it really really tough. I should be able to deal with my problems.

Which only serves to make you feel more disconnected from the world and more overwhelmed by your problems. If you can focus on the similarities between people and yourself instead of the differences then you can connect with them on a deeper level.

2) It means there’s been a LOT of people who wrestled with these same questions for a long time all over the world = masses of research and experiences to learn from.

You can look at the research and experience of other people’s wrestling and use it to see what best makes sense to you. Select what your belief set will be appropriate for your life.

Here’s just 3 resources to get you going:

  • Neuroscientists are trying to figure it out from a scientific point of view, see this post about brain fat camp, it may talk mainly about ptsd but a hyperactive amygdala isn’t necessarily always caused by childhood maltreatment.
  • Psychologists were talking about the theory of positive disintegration, by Kazimierz Dabrowski before I was even born.
  • Buddhists give offerings to the Hungry Ghosts who cannot be satisfied no matter how much they consume.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ICE CREAM!!

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ICE CREAM!!

There is something that is truly missing today for me and it is the nightly excursion to the shop in the village after dinner. All my mates and I would meet outside of the dining hall and take the stroll for what I affectionally recall as a great ending to another interesting day.

(Personal blog posts following several people’s journey through mindfulness and suffering. Including the unique experiences of spending time at a ‘mindfulness’ community in Thailand.)

We all had our favorites I reflect back on how funny it must have looked to the woman that owned the shop. We would rush in and dart straight to the freezer in the back. We would dig through all the different kinds of ice creams to find our favorite flavors. Being the somewhat OCD person I am I would find myself organizing the scattered mess of ice lollies and ice creams so we could easily obtain the one we wanted.

So…is this really about the ice cream or is it about the event of getting together with people you have made dear connections with you ask? I will answer that by explaining what really took place while we were enjoying our sweet treats. This moment every evening was about people sitting around a table talking about their day whether it was good or bad, happy or sad, hard or easy. We took the piss out of each other with love, we took the piss out of ourselves unabashedly and shared the things we learned that day  that did, will and does shape our worlds to be a better place.

There were no inhibitions around this table. We were open and expressive; we asked each other their opinions about something that one might have had to go through. We asked each other for advice. We dissected our behaviors, weaknesses and strengths. None of us were ever afraid to tell the other if there perhaps might be an area one could improve on or if there was an area we commended. We sat around that table and ate ice cream to learn to become the person we yearn and are striving to be.

So much more took place then just gobbling down our dessert. It was a meeting of the minds and there were definitely some strong ones. We laughed around that table, we cried around that table but most of all we made history around that table. All of us are interwoven in a moment and time of vulnerability and I cherish it every day and cannot help but giggle when I look at some photos that reflect the times around that table. For that I am truly grateful today.

My favorite you ask? I aptly named mine ‘Angry Panda.’ No matter how many times I bought one and I can assure you it was plenty, Angry Panda always had that same scowling look.  This photo gives me the giggles every time because it reminds me how precious life really can be.