Suffering is an inherent part of life and, as the Buddhists say, to live is to suffer. We will all get sick and experience our bodies deteriorating. We will all experience sadness, stress, and the full range of the human experience. But it is important to remind yourself of the different types of suffering.
Those who lack perspective may consider waiting in a long line, receiving bad restaurant service, or losing WiFi connection as suffering, while there are people experiencing true starvation, babies born with birth defects due to radiation from weapons of war, or people who are kidnapped and sold into slavery, etc.
The point is not to depress you, but to provide perspective. There are people who would thoroughly enjoy and do anything to be stuck in traffic or receive bad food service than have to ever go back to their state of abject poverty, misery, and destruction.
Each time something trivial or petty irritates you, whether unconsciously or consciously, you are choosing to react in that annoyed, negative manner. You are causing unnecessary suffering within yourself, which harms your quality of life as well as that of those around you.
There is always a silver lining, a humorous point of view, a way to enjoy the present moment even when that moment would be considered boring or annoying by many people. You can choose to find that humor and enjoyment in each moment. You can choose your attitude and the way you respond to the world. How fully you enjoy and appreciate each moment of your existence is completely up to you.
Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, was also a Holocaust survivor. He wrote about how even in the miserable, torturous, and desolate conditions he was in, he was still able to find appreciation and meaning in his experience and in his life. Here is a favorite quote from him that sums up perfectly the message I’m trying to convey:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”