How to Suffer Less

Most of us suffer far more than we need to. Like all other emotions, misery, discouragement, frustration, self-pity, and other emotions that contribute to suffering come from our thoughts.

While we cannot avoid all the experiences that lead to these unpleasant emotions, we can decrease the amount of power they have over us.

I call this the Scale of Suffering.

Often when we choose to think about our problems, we think of them in big, scary, dramatic ways. On the scale of 1-10, it would an 8, 9, or 10. In reality, we could bring our problems down to a 2, 3, or 4.

It’s winter now in Northern Utah, which makes weather a perfect example.

Be mindful of how the following statements make you feel.

“I hate winter.”
“Snow is the worst.”
“It’s so miserable when it’s cold.”

Each of these statements escalate my suffering up to an 8. We trick ourselves into believing that the things we’re experiencing are shockingly bad.

Now watch what happens as we change the words slightly.

“Winter is my least favorite season.”
“Snow is inconvenient.”
“I’m uncomfortable when I’m cold.”

My emotional suffering dropped considerably.

In each of these examples, I’m still being true to my opinions on winter. I acknowledge that it’s unpleasant and not fun. But I’m not being dramatic either about how unpleasant it is.

The next time you’re experiencing frustrating emotions, be mindful of the thoughts surrounding those emotions. Ask yourself, “One a scale of 1-10, how bad is this really?”

Don’t suffer at a higher level than you need to suffer. Life is much more pleasant that way.

So the question that remains is: Do you like snow?

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