Choosing love; seeing pain and joy as equal

I had a couple of really interesting conversations today; both with remarkable and inspirational women. They both shared thoughts that have remained with me and floated in my subconscious mind.

Love is a feeling but it is also a choice.”

I have always thought it was just a feeling; something instinctual and overwhelming about someone or something that meant you couldn’t live without it, emanating from somewhere inside my body, my gut or chest usually.  My romantic, naivety strikes again!

But after this last 16 months, on digesting it and thinking about it more, I tend to agree with her.  Love can also be a choice.  You can choose to love someone or something by looking for what there is to love about it.  You can find love if you look for it hard enough.  Even when you think it is impossible. Even the smallest, tiniest fragment can be enough to hold on to.  By focusing and choosing to see that, rather than everything else surrounding it, you can magnify the feeling so that it then overwhelms all other feelings.  And it started with a choice.  It started with the brain, not the gut, not the heart.


Her view was that many people don’t fight when it gets tough anymore. They don’t fight when exercise is hard or making healthy food choices are hard. When business is failing… And the same goes for marriage too.

As I come out of this latest rollercoaster, an emotional one, a really tough one that tested my resilience to stay buckled in, I can now look back and say that the downs were terrifying, that the highs were exhilarating…but both necessary to appreciate the other.  And the slow climb out of the biggest dips taught me lessons to enable me to grow and the strength I needed to climb out and up to the top of the next high.

The other conversation, a completely separate, unrelated conversation following a quote I shared with her:

I loved my pain –

Not the feeling of it,

But the way it molded

Me to be stronger.”

Her questioning response was entitled, having encountered her own rollercoaster …

Embracing pain is different from suffering.

We need to learn that pain is just different from joy. Not more or less important…..  there’s joy in loss and grief.”

Her words echoing my thoughts on the roller coaster.  The need for balance, the downs needed to prepare for the up; light needing dark so that it can be seen. The joy and happiness I feel now, so much sweeter, more genuine because of the pain and suffering from loss and grief.

And perhaps that’s why life is a rollercoaster, because, as she says, pain is different from suffering.  Pain is momentary.  Suffering is choosing to focus on the pain for extended periods of time.

And there we have it, we are back to the beginning, because it is by choosing to see love during times of despair, that we end the cycle of suffering and can pull ourselves up and out.

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