Why are our lives so full of stress and anxiety? Could we be addicted to suffering? That really sounds absurd. Why would any creature perpetuate its own suffering? I believe that we humans do it all the time by repeatedly thinking and acting in self-harming ways. Our anxiety and stress is often so constant that we forget that there is a more peaceful way of being in the world. Frequently, we minimize our stress level as not really that bad or by justify it as being necessary or temporary (though it is usually neither).
Some examples of this are worrying about money, bills, relationships, fighting with our spouse, and watching rousing television. These are all things that don’t improve our life situation, yet can contribute to our anxious states. So why do we feel compelled to continually do these things that create suffering? If an addiction is defined as continuing to engage in a behavior despite adverse consequences, then these could all be labeled addictions.
Often, we have gotten so accustomed to suffering that we assume it is a normal part of experience and fail to notice it is happening. However, chronic stress and anxiety can manifest in many ways, such as agitation, poor concentration, sleeplessness, nightmares, digestive problems, high cholesterol, back pain, skin problems, the list goes on and on. Often, we go and see a doctor to treat these symptoms, which can be life threatening, yet we never address their root cause. In fact, some of the treatments can suppress symptoms and enable us to go on ravaging ourselves mentally and physically.
The first step in getting a happier life is realizing that it is possible. However, making the necessary changes may not be an easy process. It will require an honest look at yourself and a strong determination to follow through. Almost certainly, it will get harder before it gets easier (if that weren’t the case, you would have made the changes already). This is why seeking a therapist can be beneficial. A therapist will help you gain insight into your growth areas, and then assist and support you as you embark upon your personal transformation.