The Third Most Important Question of your Life

In his blog post, titled “The Most Important Question of Your Life”, Mark Manson posed the following question:

“How do you choose to suffer?”

See: for more.

The intent behind the question, and its subsequent exposition, was to explore the idea that people routinely desire certain outcomes; but are unwilling to do what is necessary to achieve them.  They resist “suffering” through the hard yards.

This is perfectly routine behaviour.  Generally, people will naturally gravitate towards comfort.

Mark goes on:

“You can’t have a pain-free life. […] The more interesting question is […] ‘What is the pain that you want to sustain’?”

In her open reply to Mark’s article, (Afflated) Claire Chapman, asked what she called “The Second Most Important Question of Your Life”:

“Have you asked your loved ones how they would like their suffering served?”

See: for more.

These 1st and 2nd questions are very important – together, constituting the genesis of viable “laws of motivation”.  They provide a framework for the mindful contemplation of what you truly desire; and what you are willing to put yourself and those you love, through to achieve those desirous outcomes.

While I hope not to trivialise either existing maxim; I would like to pose “The Third Most Important Question of Your Life”:

“Why suffer at all?”

Is suffering, a reliable or even reasonable, measure of motivation?  Does it really what we desire?

Discomfort, and even pain, do not imply suffering.  The former are incontrovertible phenomena, but the latter is merely how you choose to respond.

Hard work also, does not imply suffering.  Despite the myriad potential stressors it can impose on one’s body and mind, suffering remains a choice.

I believe suffering is inextricably linked with the increasingly prevalent need for external motivation.  I once read the following pair of enlightening similes:

Motivation is the Push – Inspiration is the Pull

Motivation is great; but it isn’t enough. Too often we look for extrinsic stimuli, to encourage us to do something.  This can be useful to get us started, but it is rarely a sustainable source of momentum.

Far better, is to find intrinsic joy in doing something.  Look for something that pulls you towards inspiration, rather than pushing you into motivation.  Intrinsic stimuli have gravity.  Quite simply:

Find your bliss.  Follow it.

Please note: I am not suggesting that suffering is completely avoidable.  After all; into every life, must some suffering come.  It is an inevitable, and sometimes important pathway for growth.

But, we are discussing our life’s desires.  Surely, we don’t desire suffering?

As above; minimising your own suffering in response to your desires, is easy.  Find your bliss, and follow it.

None of this really helps to mitigate Claire’s question – the 2nd law. So, how might we best minimise our loved one’s suffering, in response to our desires?

Engagement?  Equality?  Reciprocity?

Sounds like the makings of a 4th law of motivation.


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