Pain, Fear, and Bravery

The first “Noble Truth” of Buddhism is that all life is suffering; anyone with an Associates Degree in Armchair Philosophy knows this. But (s)he also has enough grounding in Internet kitschy truisms to know that “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” And if you haven’t been living under a rock for the last 27 years, you’ve been told by the Dread Pirate Roberts that life is pain (your highness) and that anyone who says differently is selling something.

There’s no scientific or empirical way to evaluate any of these statements. They are non-falsifiable claims. In service of a high quality of life, is it useful to hold one or the other? Or somehow more than one? Is it even worth asking?

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Can or Will?

Consider an addict having a relapse. Her promise was not to drink. Was she unable or unwilling to keep her promise?

Consider someone with crippling depression. Are they unable to feel better, or just unwilling?

Consider someone sitting at home eating Bugles and staring at his navel. Do I lack the will to go to the gym, or am I actually unable to?

These are the same question, and there’s no “true” answer. But there is an empowering answer. By holding this answer, I have a great deal more say in how things go in and around my life, and people I couldn’t relate to before, make a lot more sense.

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The Five Love Languages

The Five Love Languages is a short book that, frankly, should have been a lot shorter. It’s basically one idea: people appreciate different forms of affection, so if you want to express love for someone, try doing so in the “love language” they understand the best. Gary Chapman, the author, names five languages:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Afts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

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