Every tragic situation can become an opportunity. Painful experiences actually shine light on the nature of happiness. Take our older generations for example; they experienced great difficulties to gain their freedom, their hope for a future, and now they have, they feel so much more joyous. But the generations after them — the ones born free and the whole world in their future — they don’t know true joy and the true value of freedom so they complain more.
Remember the incredible hardships some people around the world had to go though just to get a chance to stand in line and vote in a presidential election? South Africans just had their first chance in 1994; they eagerly stood for hours in a line that went on for miles. That same year, the United States could barely get their voter turnout to forty percent. How long did our joy and appreciation to vote last in America amongst those who only gained the privilege just shy of a century ago? Is it possible to revive it, even for those who have never been denied the right to vote?
We try to protect our children from pain and suffering just as our parents tried to do the same for us. It’s a natural parental instinct. Generation after generation, we carry this idea that suffering is a problem but we’re really robbing them of the ability to grow and learn from adversity. Suffering actually creates an opportunity for you to learn how to remain firm and maintain your composure in spite of it.
Going through hardships can actually test our inner strength. We may have lost hope in some times of suffering, and we may have persevered in others, but in the end it’s not determination that makes the real difference, it’s warmheartedness.
Of course, this is easier said than done and hindsight is always 20/20, but how do we embrace suffering when we’re in the middle of it? There are three categories of people that tend to challenge us the most: family members, teachers, and adversaries. These three objects of focus can lead to three poisons or three roots of virtues. Our day-to-day interactions with these three objects give us a rise to the three poisons of attachment, anger, and delusion — which are often at the heart of most our suffering. But we have the opportunity to transform engagements with our families, teachers, and adversaries from these poisons into the development of three roots of virtues — non-attachment, compassion, and wisdom. You’ll be surprised by the amount of joy you’ll feel the moment you exercise these virtues.
Suffering is what makes you appreciate the joy.
DAY 24. Love, Ro