How Do You Avoid Suffering?

Avoid Suffering. Photo Credit – Flickr: Nicole AbaldeLast weekend, I found myself in a crowded watering hole on a Saturday night.

After shuffling around a bit to say hello to the friends I was there to see, I was lucky enough to find an empty barstool.

I happily made a full-ass commitment to my makeshift home for the evening.

A female bartender leaned in and asked what I wanted to drink.

“Can I have a Shirley Temple, please?” I replied, as I glanced over to the gentleman sitting alone to my right.

We introduced ourselves, and my non-alcoholic beverage choice led to a conversation about vices.

I explained that my interest in alcohol consumption had decreased over the years and that drug use or otherwise wanton behavior wasn’t my scene either.

This is usually a shocker for people. Their eyes squint as they try to figure me out.

I understand the curiosity. Everyone has to have something.

Pain in life is inevitable, so what’s the method that you use to deal with it, alleviate it? The thing that makes you check out from the world and gives you comfort. The thing that keeps you sane. The thing that makes it okay.

I couldn’t think of what mine was.

I mentioned something about loving coffee and green tea, but I knew that was a pretty wimpy response.

Since we had already exchanged minimal background information, my new friend had a thought.

“What about writing?” he asked.

Writing.

Hmm.

Not a traditional vice, but an intriguing concept to think about nonetheless. Nice work, Bar Guy.

More than a specific outlet for dealing with suffering, I’m interested in the instinct to avoid pain.

Emotional pain can arise from the feeling of being alone. Like an angsty teenager listening to punk rock and writing on the walls of his bedroom, you feel like nobody gets it.

But if a virtual stranger in a bar can provide insight into my already over-analyzed life, you’re not as alone as you think you are.

My upcoming book, How to Overcome Heartbreak Without Projectile Vomiting: A Guide for Cynical Hopeless Romantics, is a collection of philosophical essays about pain, namely heartbreak.

It’ll be available next year, so make sure that you subscribe to get FREE bite-sized philosophy every week.

Stefanie Flaxman is the creator of @RevisionFairy and author of a new book about heartbreak.

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About Stefanie Flaxman

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