This depressing truth – everyone suffers – led to [George] Vaillant’s first revelation, which is that our mental health is defined by how we cope.*
The truth is pretty simple: All we do, all we ever do, is trade one set of problems for another. Problems are a feature. They’re the opportunity to see how we can productively move forward. Not to a world with no problems at all, but to a situation with different problems, ones that are worth dancing with.*
Problems and suffering are part of life.
No one is immune, no matter how hard we try and be.
It’s how we deal with it that counts, to be able to move forward to what is meaningful and purposeful for us.
Long before George Vaillant‘s work into how people coped with their suffering, the apostle Paul wrote
we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame^.
It seems he was onto something, although we’d be careful to understand that “rejoicing” in suffering has a very specific context.
Here are a couple more thoughts I happened upon again this morning, the first from Rohit Bhargava and the second from Scott McCloud:
Curation is the ultimate method of transforming noise into meaning.^^
Cartooning isn’t just a way of drawing, it’s a way of seeing.*^
They offer two ways of coping or dealing actively rather than passively with problems and with suffering.
Curation for me is another way of creating a story, and journalling becomes a means of pulling together our story and visiting it each day through different themes – for me it includes the writings of others. Cartooning reminds me that doodling allows us to see differently, to draw something out in an alternative way.
Rather than allowing ourselves to be pushed around by problems and suffering, journaling and doodling provide us with a way of anchoring and finding a way through to our hopes and dreams that we find are still there.
Lewis Hyde adds something interesting to this practice of telling our story in words and doodles, when he notices:
Forgetting appears when the story has been so fully told as to wear itself out. Then time begins to flow again; then the future can unfold.^*
*From Jonah Lehrer’s A Book About Love;
**From Seth Godin’s blog: Progress is a trade;
^^From Rohit Bhargava’s Non Obvious 2018;
*^From Scott McCloud Understanding Comics;
^*From Lewis Hyde’s A Primer for Forgetting.