Choose Your Suffering

A pretty view during a recent bike ride around Shawnee Lake

A Subtle Art

In Mark Manson’s book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, he presents a counter intuitive approach of looking at life.  For some it may work.  It worked for me last weekend. Here is how it works.
We all suffer on some level. In fact, life can be alternatively viewed as just a long time of unavoidable suffering.  With each decision you make, you choose some level of suffering. 
Earlier last week, I was informed of the Buffalo Bill Century Ride in Leavenworth, KS.  The ride had 25, 60, and 100 mile road options, along with a 50 mile gravel ride. The 60 and 100 mile rides grabbed my interest.  
When the weekend came, I was under no obligation to choose to get up at 5:45am to get ready and travel to Leavenworth to begin riding 60 or 100 miles at 8:00am.  I could have chosen a lesser form of suffering.  Sitting on the couch, reading, studying, or maybe watching some TV could have been my choices.  I only would have suffered my own feeling of guilt for not having taken advantage of such an adventure. 
I chose a higher level of suffering, because that was easier in my mind. I would suffer the open roads of eastern Kansas.  
Along the route, there was a fork in the road. To choose right would mean only 60 miles, and to be done with the ride in a more reasonable time frame. To choose left would mean a commitment to 100 miles, and more suffering.  I chose left.  
The pains that one goes through in a 100 mile ride are really not all that bad when compared to other forms of discomfort. I’ll take the swollen underside over a guilty conscience. I will take the sore quads and aching back over the simple discomfort of more decisions that would need to be made in a normal day (like, what beer I should have next? Or, should I leisure read longer or take a break and do some push-ups? Perhaps I should go to the library and rent some movies.) 

For me, framing it in terms of suffering helped me get out there and on my bicycle.  I like to have a full calendar, and to schedule each moment of my day.  This requires a lot of decisions, and as such, a small amount of suffering. I didn’t want that suffering.  I wanted the decision free kind of suffering of an increasingly stiffening neck and shoulders as the day wore on.

The next time you need to make a decision on doing something difficult, you might give this method of framing your decision in terms of suffering a try. 

4 thoughts on “Choose Your Suffering

  1. I love this idea. I also choose a higher level of suffering quite frequently (or try to, anyway). I'm reminded of one of my favorite Jim Rohn quotes:

    “Each of us must suffer one of two pains: the pain of discipline, or the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces. Regret weighs tons.”

    Like

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