Live to suffer and suffer to live

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Ah yes – my thoughts also resemble a child’s art project Volodymyr Hyrshchenko via Unsplash

The way we talk about our engagements isn’t always what motivates us to continue them

The way we frame our thoughts and reasoning for why we spend our time doing different things makes all the difference as to how we will feel about ourselves as a result. By looking at everything that we do through a negative or forced lens we are not going to find the enjoyment that we should in the activities we are participating in. Even if this is something that we genuinely enjoy doing, if we feel as though we are doing it because it is something that must be done we will lose that spark of enjoyment. Isn’t that why they suggest that one should not turn their hobbies into their profession, as you will lose the reason why you loved it in the first place?

I, like many others, am guilty of framing things in this kind of negative way. I’m guilty of doing things because I have to and not because I want to. By looking at things as though they are a balancing act, we think that we must do so many things that we don’t enjoy just to be able to justify spending time on the things that we are passionate about. This is something that I have been trying to train myself out of and I encourage any of you reading this article to consider the ways that you might be doing this and challenge your way of thinking moving forward.

One of the most obvious ways that I do this, and I am sure that many of you will agree that you do something similar, is when I look at exercising. If asked by someone why I choose to go to the gym or for runs, my immediate thought is because I like to torture myself, or another answer along those lines. It is always surrounding the idea of punishing myself as the reason why I bother to engage in this activity. Truthfully, when I think about it in a more genuine way, that isn’t why I do it. I enjoy the rush of adrenaline when I hit a new personal record and the feeling of being capable enough to perform the way I do. It is also a nice way to thank my body for allowing me the opportunity to engage in such an activity by taking care of it and strengthening it to ensure that my performance and abilities can be maintained long term.

 Why then is my initial response one that screams self-loathing? Again, I’m not sure. When asked why I participate in sports, which can be considered a very similar type of activity, my answer is very different. It centers around the ideas of enjoyment and the fostering of community with my teammates. Thinking about it seems quite strange, that these two are separated so much in the way that I choose to frame how I talk about them, as they both present similar benefits. It is as though the idea of participating for the sake of my team, rather for my own enjoyment and success, appears to be a better answer.

 I present a very similar answer whenever I am asked what I’m studying or why I chose to attend university. The reason I came to university is because I love to suffer and the reason why I took on two degrees is because I’m crazy. Again, this isn’t really the case. I did want to pursue more schooling and I do love both of my degrees an ungodly amount. However, it feels as though admitting that and going into details about it is selfish and not why I should be doing it. It’s almost as though the reasoning isn’t good enough. Ask most people why they chose the areas that they did, and they are going to tell you that they did it because they want to help people, or someone else inspired them, or any number of reasons that are outside of themselves. So maybe it’s because my reasons do not sound good enough or that the people pleasing reasons I have come up with sound too Miss America for me to want to use them. This somehow leads us back to the “everything is horrible and I’m only here to live out my predetermined punishment” mentality.

How does one go about trying to reframe these ideas – especially when there is the expectation that your reasoning cannot be self-fulfilling in any sense? Instead of accepting the fact that these are my reasons and I am doing them for me, it still does not feel like this is something that can be said out in the world. These are thoughts and rationales that must not see the light of day and one must hide them away from the eyes of the world.

It has come down to accepting that regardless of the reasons I tell people why I am doing an activity, it ultimately doesn’t really matter. I can tell them whatever it is that I think they want to hear, or I could give them the true answer and explain the details of my motivation. People are going to come to their own conclusions anyways about why they think I’m doing it. The only thing my answer will do is either confirm or deny their believed motivation, which means that ensuring that I remember why I am doing these things and that the way I phrase these does not reflect my true feelings about them is what is important. Doing what bring me satisfaction, although it may be hard, is more fulfilling than trying to change my motivation for engaging with it in the first place.

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