Buddha searched for seven years to find the cause of suffering. He came up with three things:
- Attachment to desire. Believing things have to be a certain way before you can be happy is painful. An example is being attached to what someone else says, how they act, or what your life “should” look like.
- Avoidance. Avoiding doing or acknowledging things leads to a life full of limitations. Avoidance shrinks our world. Avoiding, pretending, and denying are not the same as freedom. Example: I can’t go to Samantha’s house because John may be there.
- Ignorance. When Buddha talked about ignorance, he meant a lack of knowledge around what’s real and what’s not. When we don’t know any better, it can cause us to suffer. Example: When I thought that I was responsible for other people’s happiness, I suffered.
When I first heard that these three items are the only things that cause us to suffer, I got curious.
Could my unhappiness really fall into one of these three categories?
Could Buddha’s definition of suffering be so simple?
I spent months tracking my “suffering” (when I was unhappy). And what did I discover?
Buddha hit it spot on.
I love that I questioned Buddha’s teachings, not for the sake of doubting but for how eye-opening the experience was for me.
It was clear. Every aspect of my discontent fell into either attachment to desire, avoidance, or ignorance. Along the way I learned:
- Releasing desires around what my life should look like and eliminating expectations of other people just feels good.
- Embracing instead of avoiding things in my life frees me from fears and feelings I may be trying to hide from myself (by telling the truth faster, even if it’s only to myself).
- Educating myself and seeing the truth about patterns and choices helps me release suffering in my life.
When you accept what is, face truth instead of avoiding it, and have real insight into life’s truths, you’re well on your path to happiness.
Buddha taught that nothing is permanent. Yet, so often we want to cling to things, each other, and ourselves. We’re silly.
To be human, means we’re going to experience pain. But fighting reality is a recipe for pain in your life.
Stubbed toes, tummy aches, and illnesses are all a part of the human experience. Saying we shouldn’t be having the experiences we’re having creates a layer of fight and conflict that isn’t helpful.
Years ago I fell into this trap when my nine-day-old daughter Amy died. It was painful enough grieving the loss of my beautiful child. My belief that she shouldn’t have died amped up my pain and caused me to suffer.
We can’t have peace in our life today, if we don’t make peace with our past.
My life changed for the better when I started leaning into the power of accepting my life exactly as it is (even when there are some super painful things coming up). When we do, it’s a sweet way to live.
Make today the day that you start living a life without suffering … a life you love