HomeBlogMindsetChoosing Happiness: A Journey Beyond Suffering

Choosing Happiness: A Journey Beyond Suffering


How Suffering Is Taught

How are you supposed to choose happiness when you were only taught how to suffer? Many people feel like they are missing something from their lives and crave happiness. Yet, unknowingly, they choose suffering because that’s all they were ever taught. Society seems to deem you more worthy the more suffering you have endured. We praise people for going through hard things, teaching children to suck it up and carry on, or to fit in with their peers. Those who have overcome disastrous situations are celebrated, while those who have had it easy are greeted with quiet resentment, even though we all wish we had it easy too.

For example, the rich kid who was born with a trust fund is resented by the working class for never having to “earn” anything themselves. Yet, deep down, we all wish we had been born with one too. I saw it in the military too. Whether it was downplaying someone’s experience because they went into the ‘cushy’ Air Force and didn’t have to rough it like the Army or Marines, or within the ranks where the ‘grunts’ or infantry and other frontline Soldiers are “better” than the ‘pogs’ who stayed on the bases and didn’t directly see combat situations. Society praises hardship and suffering and resents the easy and effortless despite the desire for it.

Recognizing Suffering Choice

If we want to stop choosing to suffer, we have to be aware of where we are choosing it in the first place. Here are the top 10 ways we choose to suffer and what it sounds like when we choose it.

  1. Downplay: It’s not really that bad, it could always be worse.
  2. Disinterest: I don’t really care what we do.
  3. Defeat: It’s easier to just go with it.
  4. Defer: I don’t get a choice in the matter.
  5. Delay: There’s always next time.
  6. Delegate: They probably know more about it than me, I’ll let them choose.
  7. Disassociate: It’s fine. I’m just going to focus on this over here… (books, daydreams, movies, video games, etc.)
  8. Denial: I didn’t actually want that anyways.
  9. Defend: I’m doing it because… (insert rationalization and justification here).
  10. Deflect: It’s the right thing to do.

Do you recognize yourself in some of those statements? I know I did. The first step in addressing the problem is always recognizing that it IS, in fact, a PROBLEM. By doing so, we put ourselves back in power and give ourselves the opportunity to start choosing happiness instead of suffering.

Choosing Happiness

Becoming Aware of the Problem

The second step in choosing happiness is becoming aware of how it becomes a problem. There are often small choices that we make in our day-to-day lives, and usually, it shows up in all or many aspects of our lives. With that, there’s usually a choice to stay silent and withhold your own thoughts, taking a passive approach to the choice, and even overthinking things or confusing yourself until you just go with one of the ten suffering types. Once you have a good idea of the choices you’re making that uphold the suffering cycle, you can build self-awareness so that in those moments, you are able to be present, recognize the old choice you would have made, and choose happiness instead. Otherwise, you are going to long for happiness for the rest of your life.

The Importance of Presence and Mindfulness in Choosing Happiness

cannot emphasize enough how important presence and mindfulness are in cycle breaking and choosing happiness. It’s easy to move through life on autopilot, going with your default choices and not questioning them. But it takes consistent practice to be present in each moment and aware of what you are choosing. If you aren’t, it will be much harder to shift those choices, and you will likely only catch yourself in hindsight (which is normal when you are first starting out!). I always advise my clients to try to create an indications and warnings list, which captures what is going on right before you engage in that cycle so you can see it coming before the choice is there.

Overcoming Societal Shame and Judgement When Choosing Happiness

It sounds easy enough, but there’s a lot of societal shame and judgment that comes with going against the grain and choosing your own happiness. If you have a lot of inner fear of judgment, or challenges with self-worth, validation seeking, and other unaddressed inner wounds, it will feel really scary to just suddenly choose yourself and your happiness, or to even speak up and voice your opinion on a matter. That’s why it can be extremely beneficial to work with a coach when you are committing to a personal healing and growth journey.

Choosing Happiness Over Suffering

If you are ready to choose happiness and stop suffering, my 6-month program is a perfect fit. We meet weekly to help you work through those inner wounds, release the past pain, and create new strategies to help you choose new choices in your life, ridding yourself of those old choices that perpetuated your internal suffering. So, the question is: Are you ready to choose happiness? If so, schedule a call with me to get started. The link is below.

Schedule today!

Read more on this series.

Stop playing small. The truth about humility.

Problems with passiveness

Problems with passiveness, part 2

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