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Minimising suffering

JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matterNetherlands Veteran

I wanted to talk about a property of suffering that I have noticed. That is that if you give it attention it tends to grow larger in your inner field of view. The result is, if you think a lot about all the sources of suffering in your life, they will grow to encompass your thinking and you will probably become depressed. Negativity leads to more negativity, and it becomes a downwards spiral.

If, on the other hand, you chose to ignore sources of negativity in your life and give them only minimal attention, and instead focus on the positive things in your life, it is the positive things that will grow larger in your field of view, and you will find positivity leading to more positivity, engaging an upwards spiral, a “virtuous cycle” towards a happier life.

Of course, ignoring sources of negativity is not always easy, and it requires a certain attitude of bearing up under life’s burdens. The stoic philosophy is a good supporting methodology for doing this.

This has worked really well for me in the past, if you struggle with low mood you might want to give it a try.



  • personperson Don't believe everything you think The liminal space Veteran

    Ajahn Brahm takes this sort of view. I also think its sort of inherent in the self compassion movement.

    Its kind of like we think that being critical and harsh will motivate us to do something to change, which it can, but it also makes us feel negatively towards ourselves and less worthy of that positive change. If we focus on the good things we do and have compassion for our failings it helps build us up to a place where we value our own well being more and motivates us to do the things to create a happy mind and life.

    I'd probably add a note of caution, that its important to acknowledge and allow the negativity to arise rather than repressing it. I think its more about learning to hold it kindly, let it go and focus on the positive. There is a relatively new psychological term called toxic positivity, which I personally think some take too far, but in essence has a very good lesson to it.

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    Yes, it isn’t really a methodology for ending suffering, just something that I have done for a long time. Occasionally I look closely at the negative things, but only for a short while, and then I go back to a more positive stance.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Finding an object that immediately brings a feeling of warmth and happiness can be beneficial.

    Recently when I’m feeling a little blue I imagine a stroking a cat that is sitting on my lap and purring. This makes me happy.

    In the past I’ve used my son as the object which is helpful but perhaps there’s a little too much attachment there so sometimes it can cause suffering.

  • Steve_BSteve_B Veteran

    @Jeroen said:
    . . . if you think a lot about all the sources of suffering in your life, they will grow to encompass your thinking . . .

    Have you overhead a life-changing event, where all your previous worries and concerns were completely overshadowed by something new? The context of everything changes in a moment. I think you've put your finger on it with the phrase " all the sources of suffering in your life."

    All my sources of suffering add up to 100% of my suffering. If that's my frame of reference, then I view everything against that scale. That infuriating low F on my piano won't stay in tune. Someone is causing trouble at work. A neighbor is difficult and unpleasant.

    But so what? Elsewhere in the world, people are getting blown up, starved, tortured, exiled onto rickety boats, killed. 100% of MY suffering is obviously the wrong scale.

    If we focus on suffering, we experience suffering. If we focus on joy or love, we experience those.

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