“Just Suffer Until It Passes”

I started a “uni­ver­sal prob­lem­solv­ing” jour­nal a few months ago — when­ever any­thing goes wrong, I write down (1) what hap­pened, (2) the uni­ver­sal prob­lems /​ root causes that might un­der­lie that prob­lem, and (3) gen­er­al­ized coun­ter­mea­sures for that situ­a­tion in the fu­ture.

Many of these are ba­sic, bor­ing stuff — “Lack of Rele­vant Sup­plies” is a uni­ver­sal prob­lem; lack­ing food or coffee at home makes the morn­ing run worse. (The coun­ter­mea­sure is hav­ing ad­e­quate sec­ondary stocks of sup­plies, and I ad­justed my gro­cery or­ders ac­cord­ingly af­ter re­al­iz­ing it.)

Some of them are in­ter­est­ing, though.

Per­haps the most in­ter­est­ing gen­eral coun­ter­mea­sure is “Just Suffer Un­til It Passes.”

Some­times you lie down and can’t sleep. What do most peo­ple do? Get up and do some­thing stim­u­lat­ing.

Bore­dom. What do most peo­ple do? Do some­thing stim­u­lat­ing.

If you’ve ever done mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion, even for just 5-10 min­utes per day, you know that there’s pe­ri­ods of mas­sive raw un­pleas­ant­ness than oc­cur from time to time. You want to get up and stop med­i­tat­ing.

The an­swer? Just… suffer un­til it passes.

You can quib­ble with the word­ing — some peo­ple won’t like the word “suffer”… feel free to swap in “en­dure” or even “wait” for a more neu­tral-valence word.

But I’m start­ing to re­al­ize a lot of prob­lems aren’t huge prob­lems in-and-of them­selves, and it’s the flight to dis­trac­tion and stim­u­la­tion that com­pound the prob­lem and cre­ate bad on­go­ing habits (in­ter­net sur­fing, games, junk food, what­ever).

Po­ten­tial Take­aways —

(1) I’m get­ting im­mense mileage out of my Univer­sal Prob­lem­solv­ing jour­nal. Feel free to think about it and try some­thing like it out. If there’s in­ter­est, I might write up how I go about do­ing it.

(2) “Just Suffer [En­dure/​Wait/​What­ever] Un­til It Passes” — it’s pos­si­ble to ac­cept nega­tive af­fect and wait, and it… passes. This is of­ten more pro­duc­tive than try­ing to ban­ish it via dis­trac­tion or stim­u­la­tion, which of­ten com­pounds the prob­lem at hand.

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