Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Suffering is defined as, "the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship," and it's unavoidable.
Human beings have suffered since the dawn of time. Since our first breath, we instinctively avoiding pain. Pain is bad. Not pain is better. Pleasure is best. And this feedback system has been great for millions of years. Through this simple lens, humans have gotten pretty good navigating the world.
But despite our successful evolutionary journey we haven't been able to reduce suffering. Sure, we can lessen much of the pain our forefathers and foremothers experienced. We have modern medicine. We have balanced diets. We have access to more calories than needed and have machines that do our most dangerous, leading to longer lives. So shouldn't that mean less suffering?
Alas, no. Suffering still remains, regardless of if you're rich or poor, young or old. Yes, there are differences in the suffering but to the one experiencing it, suffering is suffering. Mental, physical, emotional, we all undergo pain and hardship.
That's because suffering is a universal truth. Regardless of who or what you are in life, you will suffer. In fact, Buddhism's first Noble Truth is that, "all is suffering". Not the most uplifting of spiritual tenets. But given this universality of suffering there must be a reason, right? Is it some type of cosmic joke, that we're never able to truly be "happy" or free from suffering? Well, kind of, because it turns out, suffering is good.
This idea that suffering and struggle is good feels weird and goes against much of our intuition. If it's good, why do we avoid pain on an instinctive level? Why do we avoid breakups, dread hard work, and seek sofa time in front of the TV or sipping on Mai Tais by the beach? If pain is to be avoided, how can suffering be good?
Suffering, pain, and hardship are what cause the good to be, well, good. We are defined by the contrast of pain with pleasure. Of adversity and resolution. Whether you want it or not, you will suffer. And it's through that suffering that you grow. The struggle is the contrast to the positive. The yang to the ying. The negative space that defines the form.
This suffering is inevitable in life. It actually is life itself. Without it, we would never have evolved beyond microbial oozes. Struggle is by definition the birth of life. Resistance against entropy, the struggle against death, i.e. life.
So rather than trying to avoid suffering, accept it. Bonus points if you can embrace it, but a low level tolerance is fine too.
If you accept that you will suffer, you then can start asking the question, "what will I suffer for?", or rephrased, "what is worth suffering for?"
You're going to suffer. I'm sorry and not sorry. I'm sorry that pain is painful, but I'm glad that you will learn and grow and live. You will struggle and fight for what you want, and that fight will make you strong so that you will live. If you're able to know why you're suffering–what your personal reason is–that can make the suffering just a little bit more meaningful.
Find something that is worth fighting for, that is worth it to endure pain and hardship. Embrace the good, the bad, and the painful. Strive for what matters to you. All struggles are meaningful if you make them so.
May you suffer well.