Hello and welcome to this glorious Friday, February 5, 2021. Today is a rare and precious day that will never come again.
There is enough suffering in the world, we don’t need to add to it. There are so many ways that we create suffering for ourselves. One way is how we have a tendency to suffer because others are suffering. Akin to survivor’s guilt, I think we sometimes believe that there is no way that “I should be happy because they are suffering.” It’s as if having happiness in the midst of sadness, despair, and pain somehow suggests that we don’t care; that it’s selfish to be happy and joyous in a world where there is so much injustice, pain, cruelty, and suffering.
While it is normal and makes sense that we experience empathetic emotions in response to the suffering of others, I feel it’s disrespectful to our own life and the lives of those who are suffering to add to the suffering. Suffering because others are suffering does little to improve a situation.
Being a former nurse, I understand the importance of the caregiver’s attitude. It’s measurable in the physiological assessment of a patient if the care provider enthusiastically enters the room and greets them with love and joy in their heart. As one who has also been a patient, I know this to be true. It’s wretched to have a miserable nurse providing your care. When this happened to me, my suffering was somehow justified. I also experienced this with visitors. Friends and family who came to see me filled with worry, sadness, and sorrow, reinforced my suffering. When this happened following surgical procedures, it amplified my post-operative pain. However, when loved ones entered my room with laughter and joy, I immediately felt better. I even required less medication. In essence, the joy was in fact, healing.
Joy inspires. Suffering does not.