Suffering comes when we compare our reality to our ideals. When reality matches our wants and desires, we're happy and satisfied. When reality doesn't match our wants and desires, we suffer. Of course, there's no way our reality will completely match our ideals 100 percent of the time. That's why suffering is so ubiquitous.
The key to happiness is understanding that suffering is caused by resisting pain. We can't avoid pain in life, but we don't necessarily have to suffer because of that pain. Suffering is the mental anguish caused by fighting against the fact that life is sometimes painful.
Our emotional suffering is caused by our desire for things to be other than they are. The more we resist the fact of what is happening right now, the more we suffer. If you allow pain to just be there, freely, it will eventually dissipate on its own. If you fight and resist the pain, however, the pressure will grow and grow until there is an explosion.
This is how things are.
You can either choose to accept this fact or not, but reality will remain the same either way.
- Kristin Neff, "Self Compassion"