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10 Reasons Why Suffering Is Good for Us (Still, it ain’t much fun.)

Will my depression go away

“I suffer, therefore I am.” Though René Descartes went with “think” as the first verb, I’m wondering if he’d have had a problem with this version of his philosophical proposition. I mean, within the realm of the emotional/mental disorders, it’s always about the suffering. But I gotta’ ask, is suffering necessarily a bad thing?  

Our suffering can greatly benefit others. There is no better way to overcome our own suffering than to reach-out to suffering others with an offering of comfort and assistance.


  1. To endure death, pain, or distress.
  2. To sustain loss or damage.
  3. To be subject to disability or handicap.

Human beings suffer. “I suffer, therefore I am.” Right? However, I’m going to go out on a limb and say human beings who endure emotional/mental disorders suffer ever so much more than the average Joan or Joe.

And because of the frequency of our suffering, and the over-and-over-and-over-again devastating fallout, suffering most often equates to – well, badness.

Who could find that hard to understand?

But is it possible suffering is good for us? Now, I know that’s a tall acceptance order. Still, could it be possible? And if we do, in fact, accept the supposition, does life with an emotional/mental disorder become (much) easier to tolerate?

My answer is “Yes.”

10 Reasons Why Suffering Is Good for Us

So now that I’ve stuck my neck out, I’d better be able to back-up my “suffering is good for us” claim. Will these work?

  1. Consider our opening proposition: “I suffer, therefore I am.” It’s a heck of a way to do it; however, suffering provides indisputable proof that all that makes us a functioning human being is in working order. Yes, suffering is evidence – confirmation – of being alive (though feeling pretty much dead).
  2. Psychotheorist Viktor Frankl believed life can’t be complete without suffering. He ups the ante by proposing the way we accept our suffering adds a deeper meaning to our lives. And he challenges us to be worthy of our suffering. Of note, Frankl was influenced by Fyodor Dostoevsky, who said, “There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.”
  3. The management of our suffering calls us to procure, and turn-to, internal and external coping and inspiration resources. Included may be the willful development of inner-strength and maturity, as well as securing and participating in spiritual – higher-power – relationships.
  4. Our suffering can greatly benefit others. There is no better way to overcome our own suffering than to reach-out to suffering others with an offering of comfort and assistance.
  5. Speaking of reaching-out, suffering can motivate us to seek connection and assistance from others. How soothing it is to be comforted by someone who’s been, or is, there.
  6. Suffering provides fresh perspective – clarity – on who we are as individuals at any given moment. The same applies to our place in our immediate environment – and world.
  7. Suffering keeps us humble.
  8. The motivation to expand ourselves – grow – is often difficult to come by. Suffering can bring it in large quantities.
  9. Suffering is the gateway to acceptance of our circumstances – and self. If we deny suffering, we deny our very existence.
  10. Without suffering, there is no relief and healing. According to psychiatrist and author M. Scott Peck, symptoms (suffering, right?) are the beginning of the cure. He even goes so far as to say symptoms are a phenomenon of grace – a call to initiate self-examination and repair.

Let’s Wrap It Up

“I suffer, therefore I am.” A perfectly reasonable proposition, if you ask me. And it doesn’t at all imply suffering is bad. No, we’ve created that association.

Those of us enduring emotional/mental disorders suffer – in so many ways – badly. You gotta’ know I get that. However, through it all there just has to be acceptance. I mean, to expect to live without suffering, or deny its existence, will only bring frustration, misery, and great gnashing of teeth.

Would it help, then, to create an association between suffering and goodness? Yeah, I think I’ve made the case.

How will you do it? Share in a comment?

P.S. Several hours after posting this piece, I was messing around on the web. Okay, I’m a huge Michigan State football fan and was doing some catching-up. Little did I know I’d come upon the very essence of this article in real-life context. Please read Article #1 and Article #2.

More insight on suffering and all things mood and anxiety disorders? Hundreds of Chipur titles.

  • Ricardo Ortiz

    Hey Bill,

    Great article

    It’s interesting to see how the self or human being becomes something authentic, real, humble and new after much suffering. One of the things I have seen that sometimes the self needs to reach a certain amount or magnitude of suffering for it to change, in my case I have seen how people reach their deepest suffering, black hole, etc…For me suffering and accepting it transforms us into better human beings for others. Pain is change we just have to reach a point to admit “Enough is enough”



    • Hi, Richard!

      Sure appreciate your visit and participation. And thank you for the compliment on the article.

      No doubt, suffering holds the potential to bring each of us authenticity, humility, and freshness. And, yes, each of us has a suffering threshold, let’s say, above which we know change just has to occur. I think that’s when acceptance comes into play – that throwing-up of the arms and admitting it’s about coexistence, rather than having things purely our way. It’s my opinion this is willfully done, and there are those who just won’t do it. That’s awfully hard to witness.

      “For me suffering and accepting it transforms us into better human beings for others.” I’m with you, man. What a waste to keep our suffering experience to ourselves. It’s really a call for outreach-action, isn’t it?

      Again, thank you for stopping-by and contributing, Richard. It’ll be so helpful to those who’ll visit down the road…


  • JessiRae Ino Pulver-Adell

    Hi Bill!

    What an interesting expression on human suffering. I am an avid fan of Dostoevsky, so I especially appreciated the quote of his you included. It is true, without suffering we would never grow to the complete essence of ourselves, because we would never truly be tested, or forced to delve into the crevices of self.

    As for how we are to bridge this seemingly mad connection, I suppose we should remain mindful of the test we are undergoing to see and FEEL the “stuff” we are made of.

    • Hey, there’s JessiRae! Welcome back. Chipur readers, JessiRae wrote this guest post for Chipur two months ago

      And so the suffering dilemma. Tell ya’ what, it ain’t going anywhere anytime soon, so it’s up to each of us to do what we can to peacefully coexist with it – at the very least. However, I’m challenging all of us to go well beyond that, to accepting and embracing our suffering, believing it can do incredibly positive things for us – and others.

      Thanks for the participation, JessiRae…

  • Hi Bill,

    Wow! Didn’t really think suffering had a positive side. A powerful insight, thank you! Great article indeed.

    • Hey, Nick! Glad you stopped-by and participated. Appreciated.

      Yeah, that suffering thing – lots of it going around. Over the many decades I finally figured-out I ought to at least try for a bit of positive spin on the dynamic. I mean, heck – had to do something with it, other than letting it eat me alive. Right? So I did some digging, and talked to some folk, and realized suffering really was good – in many ways. Pretty revolutionary concept, actually.

      Pleased you enjoyed the piece, Nick. Hope you come see us again…