"The secret of joy is
the mastery of pain."
the mastery of pain."
Well, that's one way of looking at it. While I love and respect Anaïs Nin (hello, my daughter was named after her), I call bullshit.
When someone "masters" pain, isn't that just another way of saying that they know how to hide it? And by hiding it, does that mean that the person's joy is actually sugar-coated and disingenuous? What exactly does it mean to master pain? The way I see it, "mastering" something is honing it and turning it into a coveted art or skill. So when you put it that way, it seems rather odd to want to have pain be something one masters. Of course, Buddhism tells us that life is suffering, so maybe the mastery of pain, in some regard, is accepting that there is always going to be pain around.
I'd like to think that the secret of joy is the mastery of love. Or that the secret of joy isn't the absence but the conquest of pain. When people are truly happy, their hearts are full. Their minds are clear. They can see things from rational points of view and make decisions and plan for things that wouldn't be clouded by sadness or pain. If your heart is full of love, it is only natural to feel joy, acknowledge it and accept love completely. Unyieldingly conquering the pain and facing it, dealing with it, and moving forward after really understanding the pain doesn't sound like a "mastery" of it. It sounds like you're kicking its ass. Everybody's on a pursuit of happiness. A recent issue of TIME magazine is dedicated to it. There are books and journals all about it. There's even a TED talk about the science of it. People definitely want to be happy. So why is it so hard for everyone to just stop questioning it and just be?
Admittedly, I have struggled with this but feel like I'm getting better. If you were to ask me if I were happy at this very moment in time, I would wholeheartedly and honestly answer yes. I think people create their own happiness. Sometimes, it fortuitously falls into their lap, but more often than not, we search for it. Sometimes, we look in the wrong places, other times, it's right in front of you. In any case, happiness is around and it's our responsibility to choose whether or not we want to welcome it into our lives. I like to look at it as opening myself up to self-improvement. And in my opinion, self-improvement is never a bad thing.