Thinking About What Matters: Why We Suffer?

 This post is about using Emotional Intelligence to ease the devastation of suffering.

Quotes about suffering

Each quote represents the universal attempt to explain suffering.. The most common explanations: It is our fault, randomness, God’s punishment, proof there is no God.

As Robert Frost noted: “We dance round in a ring and suppose/But the secret sits in the middle and knows.”

The anthropologist Clifford Geertz says, “…. the drive to make sense out of our experience, to give it form and order, is evidently as real and as pressing as the more familiar biological needs; .a human being cannot live in a world it is unable to understand…”

So here is how I have tried to make sense of suffering.

  1. We do not know.  I am not sure about God, but do believe in a force of love pervading all and when I pray or think of God, that force of love is my God. Proof for me that God might exist lies in the occasional miracle. Example: the one survivor of an airplane crash that kills hundreds. As the poet, E. A. Robinson said, “If God be God/God be love…..”
  2. Then there is the Buddhist idea, “It is all all right.” It may not be right for you and me, but that is a different story.
  3. Finally, I find comfort in the Jewish idea of Tikkun Olam. That idea:  God finished His work of creating this world eons ago and  left endowing  humankind with free will as well as the task of using that gift to create heaven in this world for all. The occasional miracle says to me, God keeps watch but from a time frame that is very different from ours,

Emotional Fitness Training Tips

We may not ever understand why we suffer or be able to control the forces that cause our suffering, but we can reflect on what suffering does to us,  Pain makes some people bitter and envious. It makes others sensitive and compassionate. You have a say in how suffering works its way with you.

That does not mean there are not times you are forced to your knees by pain and suffering, It is when you stagger again to stand and to do what must be done, that you need to do the following to stay strong:

Tip one: Because suffering is, make peace with it.  Suffering is part of life. and often random, not a personal punishment.

Tip two: Look for the lesson. The lesson might only be “Bad things happen randomly.” The lesson might also be more personal: Did you drive while drunk? Did you take unnecessary risks? Did you make a dangerous enemy?  If personal, heed the lesson.

Tip three: Step away from blame, anger, and hate. Forgive. Let go of blaming yourself or another. Until you forgive the flame of hurt burns your heart.  Strong self-soothing skills help.

Tip four: Become a conscious optimist.  Suffering can keep us living in fear of more suffering; not helpful and wastes the good that life bestows. To be more consciously optimistic:

  1. Be grateful for all that is good.
  2. Practice kindness often.
  3. Laugh, play, create.
  4. Find beauty.
  5. Remember what matters.

Tip five: Know when more is needed. when you stay enmeshed in the pain and can’t go on with your life you need outside help. Get it. Suffering is often too hard to bear along.

Thank you for all you do

Practice Kindness and share, comment or like this post. If you haven’t subscribed to my blog, please do. You will help keep me strong.


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Quotes about hugs.


The Transactional Analysts (TA) speak of Warm Fuzzies. The idea started with Claude Steiner, one of the greats of TA.  He gave me a warm fuzzy at one of his workshops with a 30-second comment. No one knew he was speaking directly to me.  He had noticed my painful expression because other people at the workshop were laughing at some stereotypical pictures of old folks trying to look young.  Steiner had passed them around to make a point about the sadness of trying to be who you are not.  At least I think that was the point he was making to others in the group. He sent a different message to me.

He looked me in the eye and said,  “Some of us feel other people’s pain when those people feel no pain. ”

The people in the pictures were not being hurt by the laughter in the room. Steiner’s comment helped me moderate my mad, bad, and sad feelings a bit better.

I am still known for being too sensitive.  I am better at moderating my sensitivity for as with all things sensitivity to other people’s pain – what the experts call empathy – can be overdone. Balance is everything.  I try to not let my sensitivity get down on harmless jokes and at the same time speak out when I see damaging cruelty.

Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, has said “we need four hugs a day for survival.  We need eight hugs for maintenance.  We need twelves hugs a day for growth.” And, research in a Korea orphanage demonstrated a significant boost in the health and growth of infant orphans who received an extra 15 minutes a day of physical touching.

Nevertheless, for the miracle of a hug to work, it must be wanted. Two stories:

When I was young and single and worker at a hospital, I walked into a corridor and there was an intern coming toward me. He opened his arms wide planning to hug me. I did like or dislike him, but I did not want to be hugged by him. I walked up to as if allowing the hug and then sidestepped around him and walked on, never looking back. I am sure he was not happy, but I was.

This is a sadder story. One of my sweetest foster children shivered, the first time I hugged her. She had been sexually abused; hugs hurt. I apologized immediately and never hugged her again. She did give me a goodbye kiss on the cheek when she left our care.


Tip one: Face to face hugs when wanted by both parties build physical and emotional strength.

Tip two: Be sensitive to those people not able to hug freely. Most were abused or neglected as children.  A few are just super sensitive physically and hugs hurt. The bodies of both groups stiffen, as my foster child taught me,  when hugged.

Tip three:  Don’t make kids hug family members or friends. Remember, most abusers are family members or friends.

Tip four: Give lots of non-physical hugs. How? Sincere praise and compliments

Tip five: Even properly delivered criticism can feel like a hug.  Steiner’s felt that way to me.

Tip six:  It only takes a quick key press to send a social media like which is a virtual hug.

Thank you for all you do

Practice Kindness and share, comment or like this post. These are hugs to me. If you haven’t subscribed to my blog, please do. You will help keep me strong.


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How To Get Results – Communicating With Emotional Intelligence

Communication is response quotes

Surprised by the response to things you say? Getting into fights that go nowhere? Friends fading? Loved one’s angry? These Emotional Fitness Training Tips will get you more of what you want from people.

Tip one: Because communication is the response, not getting the response you want is useful information. Make a neutral response of some sort, “I need to think about what you are saying” is one. “I hear you” is another.  Then change the subject so you can use the response to improve your communication skills.

Tip two: Decide if the issue is worth pursuing. Rate the issue. One would be trivial – a difference of opinion, such has whose team is going to win the world series or which political candidate you plan to vote for. Two: would be moderately important – Where to go on a joint vacation. Three would be very important – thinking about ending the relationship.

Tip three: Before reopening the issue, try to better understand some reasons the response you wanted is not forthcoming:

  1. The person may just be cranky and not thinking much about what you said, or universally insensitive.
  2. You may have hit on a sore spot, triggering a bad memory, or sounding like a critical parent.
  3. You may have created some negative feelings by what you said.  This is particularly true if your statement created doubt about something the other person believes to be the truth and nothing but the truth.
  4. You may inadvertently cause pain in the other by being happier, healthier, or seeming to have a better life than she/he does.
  5. Your words might have been harsher than you were aware of.
  6. Your body language may have shown disgust or contempt.

Tip four: Think about how to better address the issue. Maybe a brief note, expressing your concern and asking the other person for some feedback.  You might consider using a one-text document type of negotiation. This is used by high power negotiators. One side writes out their concerns and demands. The other side edits and adds to the document, documents are based back and forth until both sides are satisfied.  Writing tends to be more neutral, particularly if you take the time to edit your document several times before sending it.

Tip five: Know when more is needed. when the issue is major and you cannot work it out with the other person, seek professional help. Go on your own to a good therapist or counselor. In time, invite the other person to join you.

Thank you for all you do

Practice Kindness and share, comment or like this post. If you haven’t subscribed to my blog, please do. You will help keep me strong.


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Emotional Intelligence Requires Heart and Head Acting Together

Picture illustrating a quote by Huxley about perspective

To think beyond your experiences and treasured perceptions requires journeying from heart to head and then back again. Both must operate together to act wisely based on what matters.

Thank you for all you do

Practice Kindness and share, comment or like this post. If you haven’t subscribed to my blog, please do. You will help keep me strong.


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As usual thank all of you for all you do to make our world better.