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To suffer, you have to prefer X and then something contrary to X happens. If everything that ever happens matches your preferences, you’d be pleased with it.

If you do prefer X and things go another way, then consider:

What kind of preference is it? Is X a “nice to have”? A vague dream? An aspiration? Or a must-have?

And, specifically, either you are OK or NOT OK with not getting the X preference met. There’s only two possibilities there.

If you prefer X, and consider no X to be NOT OK, and X doesn’t work out in reality, then you’d suffer – you are NOT OK with how reality is.

There’s no other way to suffer.

And even if you get this kind of situation, you can think “well, this is a problem to be solved. so i’ll temporarily be OK with no X while looking for a solution. maybe i can find a different way to get X, and the delay would be OK rather than NOT OK. maybe i can find out X isn’t so great after all and genuinely lose interest in it. i’ll take a look.”

So suffering also requires that attempts to do rational problem solving like this fail.

Elliot Temple on May 7, 2015


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