Being alive entails some degree of suffering in one form or another. I'm sure you know that already. If your suffering is pointless, it is just suffering. But if your suffering has some meaning, you'll be able to tolerate it much better, and if it has enough meaning, you can even find happiness while suffering.
Viktor Frankl (author of Man's Search for Meaning) discovered this powerful insight into the human condition while he was in one of Hitler's concentration camps:
You will feel strong and happy to the degree you feel your actions have some meaning.
How would this work in your life? What can you do with this
insight? I have an experiment I'd like you to try. First, choose
something you're unhappy about. Just one thing.
Now ask yourself, "Can my suffering serve some meaningful purpose?"
It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or what they might think about it. What matters is that your life and your struggles have meaning to you. Does your suffering serve some greater end? Is it the price you must pay for some important purpose?
Don't come up with an answer right away. Ponder it, like a Zen koan,
for days or even weeks. But then come back and leave your answer here
on the comments. If you find a good answer, it will shift the way you
feel about your own suffering.
I'll give you a personal
example. Sometimes progress on my goals seems way too slow. It has been
frustrating, and sometimes I've felt discouraged and defeated by the
obstacles. But I've found meaning and purpose in those struggles. I have
learned much more about determination — how to restore it, how to strengthen it — than I ever would have otherwise, and since I'm a writer, many people have benefited from what I've learned.
I really love to learn, and I want to make a difference, so this means a lot to me. It is meaningful.
As soon as I looked at my setbacks and frustrations with this new
understanding, they stopped making me so miserable. The very thing
making me suffer turned out to be a gift.
That's a powerful shift in perception. That's
how to feel strong and happy, no matter what's happening. This
principle worked for men suffering horribly in concentration camps, it
worked for my comparatively minor sufferings about my goals, and it will
work for your sufferings too if you'll give it a chance.
Take your time and ponder the question. Is there some meaning or purpose to your suffering?
Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.