Few people in life can avoid suffering. It’s part of the human experience and gaining inner growth. It can come in mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, economic, and many other forms. Still, the bottom line is that you will eventually have to deal with the concept of suffering.
It’s challenging to look at suffering as anything other than a bad thing. Of course, suffering wouldn’t be a necessary part of most people’s life experiences in an ideal world, but that’s not the reality we live in. The fact is that you will experience suffering at some point, and there’s no way to avoid that!
But all is not lost. Just because you’ll experience points of pain and suffering, that doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to progress through those times. In fact, that hurt can even be a positive force on your life!
Here are nine ways suffering can lead to inner growth and happiness.
1. You Learn Humility
When you suffer, you gain perspectives on typical experiences that make you extra grateful for more average circumstances. For example, having your heart broken can make you more appreciative of a long-lasting and healthy relationship, and being ill can make you more appreciative of being healthy.
Suffering forces you to drop expectations that you have on life, making you focus instead on even simple things that bring positivity into your world. You don’t feel as entitled to average circumstances and learn to take note of even the smallest silver linings in your situations.
Humility is a beautiful part of personal growth and is a great trait to have. Studies have also found that humility boosts positive thinking and creates more happiness, so learning to be humble can be a great result of a negative experience.
2. Your Emotions Can Become More Fulfilling
Suffering amplifies all sorts of emotions, and this can be very harmful if your entire experience is filled with negative emotions. But, almost paradoxically, positive emotions can become stronger in times of suffering, too.
Have you ever noticed that just as simple things could dramatically ruin your mood when you were suffering, simple things of a positive note could also dramatically uplift you? You could find hope in that which usually would have slipped beneath your notice.
When you emerge from a place of suffering, you hold onto the ability to feel more uplifting by your positive emotions. You feel more fulfilled by the things you experience, and the impact and richness of the world around you becomes apparent. This is a beautiful way to grow as a person and gain happiness!
3. You Can Get Smarter During A Period Of Inner Growth
Intelligence isn’t always inherent. It’s something that can be built over time, and suffering can help you gain more of it. The smarts you gain from suffering contribute significantly to your overall happiness and growth over time, and you’ll be better equipped for the future after you’ve learned from your suffering. Here’s how:
- You learn to solve problems.
- Learning to cope with negative experiences and build resilience
- You get better at finding creative ways to think and solve
- You know from your time of suffering so you can avoid it in the future
- Learning from your mistakes
- You sharpen your mental skills overall
- You learn more about yourself and what works for you.
4. You Become More Compassionate
Everyone knows that compassion is valuable, and most people understand that being kind is something to strive for. But it’s also fair that not everyone has this compassion naturally. Sure, everyone is some sort to some degree, but you’re a human being – you’re driven by selfishness and self-preservation, too.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn to be kinder, suffering can give you that benefit. You know about hardships and understand the feelings of others on a deeper level, allowing you to better empathize with those around you. It can imbue you with a desire to give back to others, as the kindness shown to you while you’re suffering is a kindness that you will remember.
Practicing compassion regularly is a critical component of happiness. The people with the most positive thinking are those who are kindest, and they often have better self-esteem, too. And, of course, you can’t deny that being more compassionate makes you a better person!
5. You Can Explore Your Emotions
Sometimes, you don’t understand the depth of your emotions until you have no choice but to feel the full sweeping power that they hold. You may have been repressing certain feelings and avoiding addressing issues that are rooted in your subconscious.
Suffering often brings these emotions bubbling to the surface and to recover. You have to dig into those emotions and find what their true sources are. You’ll have to confront ugly truths and painful realities that you had previously been unaware of, or even ones you’d been openly avoiding.
To explore your emotions during suffering, you can:
- Ask yourself the source of your suffering and go beyond that answer, continuing to ask “why” until you get to the root.
- Use a journal or similar medium to spill out all that you think and feel in an unfiltered, uncontrolled manner so you can reflect on them later.
- Seek to truly understand yourself on a deep psychological level, even the parts you dislike.
Being able to explore your true emotions grants you helpful insight that is instrumental for personal growth. Digging out the roots of those emotions can also be a meaningful way to increase your happiness levels.
Suffering is just a part of life. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and all bad times come with some good and all good times come with some bad. And, of course, things can’t be negative or positive forever. That’s just reality.
When you have had your fair share of suffering, you begin to look at the good times in a more favorable light. Gone are the days when you would take the bright times for granted. You notice every detail of your positive phases and appreciate them on a deeper level when you’ve suffered in the past. This isn’t just great for your happiness, but it also makes you a more grateful person, a crucial part of personal growth.
7. You Can Gain More Empathy
Empathy refers to the ability to relate to and feel for others with high emotional intelligence, allowing you to comprehend their emotions and experiences better. It can be an essential trait, but it’s not something that comes naturally to everyone.
Suffering shows you more experiences that can put you into the shoes of others. You learn how it feels to be in a wrong place, and you’ll be able to understand better those who are suffering, too. This valuable trait of empathy builds better connections and facilitates improved inner growth, and as your social circles grow more meaningful, your happiness benefits, too.
8. You Can Use Pain To Fuel Your Inner Growth
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need to feel pain to be motivated. But if you’re in a position where you think that you’re suffering, you can turn that into positive forward momentum and use it as a driving force that fuels you to succeed, achieve goals, and emerge from challenges.
Many people falsely believe that the only way to “fuel” yourself is by always using positive thinking. While it’s an admiral idea, it’s also not always realistic. Sometimes, this can lend itself to dangerous habits of toxic positivity, where you invalidate and repress your negative emotions for the sake of maintaining a positive experience on the outside. And let’s face it – truth can be harsh, but a problematic truth is always better than a nice-sounding lie.
There are some situations where pure positive thinking isn’t possible, and that’s okay. Suffering can be used as motivation, and, almost paradoxically, the act of channeling suffering correctly can take you out of suffering. This can happen by:
- Gritting your teeth through the pain and building resilience to it in the process.
- Honing your feelings of determination to overcome obstacles and challenges.
- Inspiring you to want to rise against unfair and unacceptable circumstances.
- Challenging you to be stronger and to grow so you can overcome your suffering.
- Giving you a reality check to put you on a more productive and informed path.
- Teaching you survival skills.
9. You Can Decide To Change
Many people become overwhelmed when they realize all the things that they can’t control, but they go so far as to become blind to the things they can handle. If that describes you, then suffering may teach you to break out of that cycle.
There are many things in life you can’t choose, but there are also many decisions that you have the power to make. When you suffer, you have to actively choose to get better, choose to stay strong, and prefer to keep going. You have to get out of your head to survive, and in the process, you may realize that you always could control your reactions and choose how you handle different situations.
Once you learn this lesson, you can apply it beautifully to many different parts of your life. You realize that you always choose to change aspects of your life and self that need improvement, and this realization can drive a lot of inner growth and make you happier overall.
Basically, you realize that you’re the captain of your ship and the master of your fate, and that’s a powerful thing to become aware of. At the end of the day, the way your experiences are perceived by your eyes is entirely up to you, and how you channel your inner growth to each is your decision, too.
It’s hard to want to look at suffering as something that can be positive, but the lessons that you can learn from these experiences can be precious to your growth and happiness. If you learn to harness pain and transform it into something positive, the suffering you face will have a thicker silver lining, and you may even be glad for the lessons it taught you once it is behind you!