Pain is inevitable. Suffering is not. What’s the difference?
You stub your toe. A wave of unpleasant physical sensation radiates from your toe, up your leg, and out your mouth in the form of a colorful exclamation. The whole things is over within seconds. This is pain.
But then your internal dialogue starts up. You criticize yourself for being so clumsy. And is this a bad omen for the rest of your day? You really should learn to pay more attention, but you didn’t get much sleep last night with all that noise your annoying neighbor was making and . . . This is suffering.
Unpleasant things happen. They arise on their own, they dissolve on their own. When you interfere with this natural process by trying to make sense of things, trying to assign blame, trying to control a process outside of your control, you add insult to injury. Next time pain shows up, can you simply watch it coming, watch it going? Can you recognize it as a perfectly natural process that doesn’t need “fixing?”