Pain is Inevitable – Suffering is Optional.

No one stumbles into a well lived life.


Wow Weekly Email # 250!

That is five+ years of writing and publishing an article each week.

This has gone well beyond a routine or habit.

It has become a compulsion, a part of who I am…


Humans are built for survival. For us, life is a game of competition. We are always looking for better, for more, for innovation.


“Striving for domination doesn’t make us feel good, but it’s a very good survival strategy.” Mark Manson


On the other side, being happy and content all the time is a terrible survival strategy. Therefore, as survival machines our minds are designed to constantly conjure up doubt, fear, and anxiety. It is impossible to get rid of this pain and anguish in our lives, it is built into our DNA.


“Happiness research shows that we’re all pretty much mildly dissatisfied most of the time, regardless of income, gender, marital status or what car you drive.” Mark Manson


Psychologists propose that the key to happiness is all about controlling the constant stream of negative thoughts we all endure. Unfortunately mastering our thoughts does not come naturally for most of us. It requires awareness, reflection, a lot of time (sometimes years) and calmness.

The title above “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional” is a frequently used quote of unknown source that perfectly sums up this philosophy.


I am dealing with the early stages of grief from losing my father 6 weeks ago. Three things that are helping me to work through the pain of this loss are,

# 1, frequent talks with my wife, Maryanne about my feelings (this is the heavy-duty work).

# 2, reading lots of articles about grief (this is slightly easier work). PS: I am finding the writing of Mark Manson on this topic particularly helpful.

# 3, writing about my father and weaving his influence on me into my articles (this is easy and affirming work). So, bear with me, writing this stuff is helping me.


Anyone dealing with intense worry or dread (a focused form of worry that occurs again and again) will benefit from working through the following “three step process”.


  1. Acknowledging your negative thoughts, take time to sit with your thoughts and allow them to flow over you.


  1. Accept that these painful thoughts and feelings are natural and expected. Most of your unpleasant feelings are unavoidable and will take time to process and move past.


  1. Let go of the negative or painful thoughts so you can start to relax your mind. This is the active part that you can control, remember “suffering is optional.”



“Whenever you feel intense worry or dread, remind yourself that it is your brain trying to help. Instead of trying to get rid of your worries, try listening to them. What are they trying to tell you?”  Mark Manson


We cannot control most of the pain in our lives. But we can control the meaning we ascribe to our pain. It is the meaning that determines whether our pain causes us to suffer or not.


“The most important thing you can do in 2024 is to distinguish between what is within your control and what is not — and focus all your energy on what is within your control.” Shane Parish


Thanks for reading,

Stay safe and do not stress about what you cannot control.




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