“If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.” -Dalai Lama
Recently someone said to me that he realized he does not have a right to not be uncomfortable. I have read some Buddhist books which discuss the idea of suffering being a normal part of life. This makes sense to me, but the "right" to not suffer, I had never thought of that. I am definitely guilty of feeling righteous about being comfortable. I miss the train and now I have to be uncomfortable waiting for the next train because it's cold/hot/windy/humid. Now I may be later than I wanted and will have to hurry through my tasks. I am upset, the idea of my right to be comfortable being taken from me is distressing.
Tolerating discomfort is not a new idea. Obviously people have been identifying tolerance as an important skill for hundreds of years. But this "right" to being comfortable. That seems generational, specifically generations X and Y. I see it as a possible significant contributing factor to the unhappiness I see around me (and sometimes in myself). We have incredibly high expectations for just about everything. Our careers should be inspiring and challenging, our relationships with significant others should be fun/romantic/easy, our homes should be comfortable and full of comfort giving things, our appearance, our families, our finances, children all follow suit.
This is not a rant about generations X and Y being lazy. We are NOT lazy. We work and if we are not working we want to be working. A large part of our identity is wrapped up in our work. But often our work does not make us happy and we feel like failures as a result. I think the problem is idealism. We are idealist and dreamers. We have big dreams, hopes and ideas. When our relationships are difficult, our work joyless, our days mundane, every inconvenience is a harsh reminder of how we are not living as we imagined. More proof the universe is unfair. It is not that most people do not deserve to live out their dreams, hopes and ideas. It's just that the universe is actually unfair.
Acceptance and tolerance, these are important tools for coping with discomfort. Can you imagine how our lives would look to us if we could accept we have no right to be comfortable, and learn to tolerate discomfort? Maybe we could appreciate our lives as they are, part beauty and part discomfort. Our expectations could match reality. We could have a shot at happiness.