I have been reflecting on suffering and it seems to me that, since everyone is suffering and yet most people around me seem happy and contented, there is a way to live "happily" despite suffering that is accessible to everyone, Buddhist and non buddhist alike.
None of these "happy" people I know are Buddhist - most have no spiritual beliefs. I'm mainly talking about the people at my work: I am the youngest and all the others are middle aged, I have a healthy body and most are overweight or have pain from age related problems, most have children which (from the sound of it) is a big source of suffering. I admit I have depression (I have had it since I was abused as a child by a parent and don't expect it will ever go away), and I only have one friend (probably due to depression too), but I feel that objectively I am suffering less than everyone I spend time with even though it doesn't seem that way.
If this is true then I must be missing something really big, if I'm here trying to learn the way to escaping suffering but my colleagues are already halfway there without thinking about it. It seems like every day takes all my effort just to get through, but my colleagues are doing the same work happily AND raising kids (for example).
My teacher seems to teach only that you can ignore suffering if you focus on imagined, "happy" scenarios, and that thia can even heal my depression if I brainwash myself enough, but I am questioning this as Buddha clearly said that only enlightenment is the cessation of suffering.
What does Buddha teach about how to live well while suffering? Do I need to suffer more to toughen myself up against suffering - am I too "soft" because I've lived a life relatively free of pain? Have my older colleagues already suffered so much that they are beginning to be free of it? Is it really just about ignoring the negative emotions and exhaustion I constantly feel, and lying to myself until it becomes true?
None of that seems right but my teacher seems so sure. (She is New Kadampa - I don't know where that sits under the various Buddhist umbrellas.)