When was the last time you were really happy? Was it yesterday when you heard your favorite song on the car radio for the first time? Was it when you were a kid, no taller than 5 feet tall, playing basketball with your friends during recess? Or was it when you heard the final bell at 2:30, signaling the beginning of Christmas break? What if this was not even true happiness? The very nature of the human condition is that we are all slave to one maxim: suffering is inevitable. The suffering common to all humans, however, should not be a burden of knowledge. Genuine happiness, the one that is permanent, requires a realization of the tragedy in the world, but being happy nonetheless. The paradoxical nature of suffering–in which suffering, given that it is overcome, inevitably leads to genuine happiness–needs to be embraced in order to undo the follies of the human condition.
Without suffering, one may never know happiness. As humans are relative creatures, reality derives from the inconsistencies between two contradictory natures. In this case, joy and tragedy cannot co-exist without each other because as one understands tragedy, one understands its counterpart, joy. If the latter is experienced without tragedy, it deems itself oblivious to the true nature of life, rendering it as naïve. Imagine your childhood. Contrary to was merely foreign to us. It is only through comparison to the present, that we attach feelings of happy nostalgia to it. The happiness of a child is one devoid of the acknowledgement of suffering. The lack of something by no means incurs the gain of another. In simpler terms, the absence of sadness is not equivalent to happiness. Genuine happiness is being fully omniscient to exactly what it means to suffer, yet knowing that the joy you feel is the complete opposite. That is happiness.
A life without suffering remains at a neutral; it is through suffering that humans make their lives memorable. Life is a medium to feel emotions. Given this criterion, humans need to embrace all emotions, both positive and negative, as it is what makes people alive. Feelings of anxiety, loneliness and fear are what constitute of the human condition. They should not be avoided, for they simply cannot be avoided. The oppression of all emotion is not only impossible, but also unsatisfactory. The lack of suffering makes for a mediocre life, in which we cannot differentiate the positives from the negatives. You should not wait your entire life to live an existence that is anything less than exceptional. Choose the path that challenges you, not the mundane one that everyone follows. Life is made exceptional through a vast array of emotions that vary in the spectrum of joy verses tragedy.
Suffering allows you to grow as a person. Friedrich Nietzsche, considered the father of existentialism, once stated, “That does not kills you, makes you stronger.” He outlines the deficiency of the human race. When humans face suffering, we simply run from it. We succumb to our weaknesses, yet ironically, we except to be happy. This is our folly. This is the true origin of our suffering, not the suffering itself. We expect so much, yet we do so little. Humans need to do more. We must embrace tragedies and put ourselves in difficult situations to become a better person, such that suffering is no longer suffering, rather strength. His quote, “A yes, a no, a straight line, a goal” alludes to this idea that if we want something we must stop at nothing to achieve it. Envision a tightrope walker, with thirty meters of air below him and nimble feet maneuvering on four centimeters of coiled rope with no support but a balancing beam. You are the tightrope walker. The tightrope is your suffering. Stakes are high if we fail. However, if we survive, the rewards are endless. This is how we should live our lives. Suffering should not be a means of deterrence, but rather a means of improvement.
In conclusion, the entire human race needs an implementation of the paradox of suffering in order to dilute the vices of the human condition. It is through suffering in which we can create a medium in which we can distinguish genuine happiness. This happiness along with suffering create the vast array of emotions that make life meaningful. Suffering elicits strength in us. If modern society fails to acknowledge these truths, it is disputable on whether the human race will thrive for much much longer. If we do not control our suffering, our suffering will control us.
Author Bio: Anette Jingco
Anette Jingco lives in Toronto and is in her second year at the Schulich School of Business – York University. Anette enjoys all things creative–be it writing, designing or taking pictures. She believes that words, although they lack a physical presence, sometimes hold more power than actions themselves. If you wish, you can contact her on Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/anettejingco