Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Suffering While Evils Are Sufferable

Magic Winter Wonderland
Originally uploaded by Marinshe
"... all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."
~ The Declaration of Independence*

How often have you found yourself in a situation (professionally, personally, or otherwise) where there was a great deal of suffering, yet you did very little to change your course? I know I have found myself looking around asking the question, "Why do I keep putting up with this?" Too often, even when we identify the problem or problems, we continue to suffer them because they are sufferable.

We have a tendency to forgo any major decisions to change our current, painful situations in the hopes that there will soon be a better day. We hold out or resist making any drastic changes because it seems easier to wait things out.

Sometimes it is just the fear of making a difficult decision. Other times it is an inability of knowing what action to take. Still other times we're just hoping every ill that is troubling us will magically disappear. Surely it will improve, right?

It has always amazed me how much we'll endure simply because it seems safer than the risk of doing something about our problems. Instead of taking steps to repair a bad marriage, we'll remain miserable and refuse to change course. Instead of searching for a great job we'll enjoy, we settle for the perceived security of the bad one. The one that makes us miserable every day. Instead of finding good friends, we'll remain in the company of the friend who bullies, manipulates, and just brings us down.

Why is this? Because it seems safer to do nothing about a bad marriage. It takes hard work and determination to restore a marriage gone bad. It might even seem risky, so the suffering is sufferable.

How does this make sense? Because the human mind says the security in the steady, yet miserable occupation you have now outweighs the potential of a better job that could be out there. It is difficult to look for a new job. To prepare your resume and go on interviews requires a little preparation and work. It seems risky to look for something better, when you're OK where you are at now. So long as the suffering is sufferable.

Who would really put up with this? You and I each time we befriend people who really have no interest in improving their lives. When we refuse to recognize that there are people out there who will drag us down, who will influence us to behave in ways we should not, and who have only their self interests at the forefront of their minds we choose to suffer the insufferable. So in the interest of being friends with everyone (a feat that is impossible), we convince ourselves they won't affect us. Instead of distancing ourselves, because that seems risky, we allow bullies and undesirables into our lives. To distance ourselves would rock the boat, and that always seems risky. So we choose to suffer.

Why would you choose to suffer while the evils are sufferable? Doing something about a bad situation seems like a risk, but in the long run it is riskier to do nothing.

*I must give credit where credit is due. I am not smart enough to have discovered that great quote from the Declaration of Independence. I first read it in Seth Godin's book, The Dip. After writing it down in my notebook and considering what it was saying, I penned this post.

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