When we look at something across the world that causes suffering or when we look at something in someone else’s life that causes them to suffer, we feel powerless. Being empathetic, we want desperately to do something to improve the situation. But we don’t know how. This is even more true when the suffering is causes by a large conflict, such as a war. We get to a point where we feel utterly powerless to all the suffering in the world. But what are we going to honestly do? Are we going to get on a plane, fly to the country where the war is taking place, get off the plane, walk right into these killing zones and try to talk terrorists or soldiers into stopping the bloodshed? Some of us might be inspired to do that, but for most of us, we know the answer to that question is no. As a result, we are paralyzed to improve anything. We begin to feel if the world is forsaken.
The most crucial thing for a bleeding heart to understand is that we will never feel good about the world we live in, or about ourselves until we stop addressing suffering in terms of specific, isolated incidents. We will only reduce suffering if we treat suffering on this planet as a whole. We can only make an impact on suffering if we feel empowered instead of powerless. We can only make an impact if we believe we can make an impact. If you want to believe you can make an impact; and what’s more, if you want to start actually making an impact, look at suffering only as a whole instead of in parts. Instead of focusing on that one war that you feel like you can’t do anything about, focus suffering in and of itself or at least on collective human suffering. Look at the big picture of suffering (which is something we can have a direct, tangible impact on) instead of focusing on isolated incidents that cause suffering (which we often feel removed from to the degree that we feel we cannot have a direct tangible effect on them). We, bleeding hearts of the world, need to take a vow to reduce collective suffering by adding to collective wellbeing every day in the ways that we CAN add to collective wellbeing. How do we reduce suffering by adding to wellbeing? There are an unlimited number of ways. But here are some examples: Eat a plant based diet, open the door for a stranger, smile more, pick up litter, help someone reach a goal, compliment someone, give someone a gift, give someone a hug, spend quality time with someone, adopt a homeless pet, inspire others, quit killing the bugs in your house and set them free outside instead, stop using pesticides, encourage someone, donate money, and look for and create beauty in the world. There is an enormous difference between focusing on and resisting the problems and focusing on and going in the direction of a solution. You will know you are focusing on the solution when you feel emotionally empowered. You will know you are focusing on the problem if you feel emotionally in pain. When you look at suffering as a whole, you will soon realize that your suffering is a part of that collective suffering. It will then become apparent that the most important thing we could do to reduce suffering in the world is to reduce our own suffering as individuals. You are contributing to world suffering when you suffer as a result of focusing on the suffering of others. Because of this, it can easily be said that the single most important thing you will ever do for world suffering, is to do whatever it takes to enable yourself to be happy.