Pretty sure I've discovered the formula to life. Years of reflection and curiosity, study and experience have led me to this anecdotal conclusion. Here goes:
We are born
Shitty things happen (but so do good things)
We heal ... or don't
In that order.
Let's start with the premise that life has meaning. If you are into the whole life is a fatalist set of random circumstances over which no one has control or influence, then you probably won't get much out of this post. I'll try to write one for you at a later date. I'll title it Devil's Advocate, just for fun.
But, for everyone else, hop on the meaningfulness train and I'll take you for a ride.
One popular spiritual belief starts with the idea that we choose our life lessons before we are born. We choose our parents, our siblings, our friends and lovers, our enemies. These people are a group of souls with whom we travel through lifetimes, each of us agreeing to play a role in our lessons. But, (now, this is crucial so don't blink past this part) because we have free will, we cannot know what our human journey will be; all we know is that the Universe will conspire to help us learn our chosen and agreed-upon lessons by any means necessary. And we will be grateful for it 😆.
The fact is, we are meant to suffer. It's part of the plan. Where we got this idea that life is supposed to be a bowl of cherries without the pits I will never know. Some marketing person probably came up with that one so we'd all go out and try to buy our way into perpetual bliss.
The question is not why do we suffer? The question is what do we do with our suffering? When we are in the thick of suffering, all we can do, really, is hang on and ride it out as best we can. Knowing that this, too, shall pass is a powerful balm to the pain. There is no rushing through the suffering stage, no collecting $100 and passing Go. One of the reasons for this is because, if you scoot past it, brush it aside, push on, you will have deprived yourself of the lessons that are inherent in suffering (and the pain of it will just sit there, lodged in your DNA and your psyche until you heal it). Also, the Universe is patient and without judgment - if you skip or stunt this learning opportunity, it will find another one for you.
The good times in life are the pauses in our suffering. They create space for us to examine and heal from the past hurt. But we don't usually know this so we don't take advantage of the built-in breaks. Thus, there's a pile-on of suffering such that we eventually know little else. Also, it doesn't help that the primal part of our brain thinks its protecting us with its 24/7 on-guard alertness for danger.
So, to sum up, numbers 1 and 2 above are inevitable. Number 3, though, to heal or not to heal is entirely in our hands. It is a choice. My advice is to go ahead and clear that shit as best you can before number 4. Otherwise, if you believe in this sort of thing and we are going on the assumption that you do, you will have to re-experience the lessons in a future lifetime. So, you may as well get it done now. The bonus to doing the healing and learning is that feels so much better. And, it creates more space for those good times pauses where you can bask in love, joy, delight, and calm.
So, life distilled to its barest of minimums.