suffering and growth

Chi-Jui Wu 吳啟瑞
Jul 20 · 2 min read

“Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health.” — Carl Jung, psychologist.

In Yuval Noah Harari’s book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century and Ray Dalio’s Principles, both authors reference suffering and pain as a recurring theme in human life. Throughout history, we embrace suffering and pain as we grow and tackle life challenges; it’s a process many of us go through in life. Facing change and uncertainty, we try to find a solution, go around it, enjoy it, or get defeated and bathed in the feelings of failure until we resurface as a new person.

Yuval Noah Harari writes that one big question of life is “How do we get out of suffering?” When we experience real suffering, we are forced to ask ourselves who are we and what do we really want, because our beliefs and values will ultimately determine our choices. Practicing the ability to observe and understand ourselves in everyday life and suffering (for example, through meditation) helps us remain in control of our lives and make sense of the current world.

Ray Dalio also writes that we need to understand the reasons for our pain, because our personal growth is predicated on how we learn from our past experiences of pain. We will feel pain again and again when we try to achieve our goals. We should identify the origin of problems or obstacles and design a solution targeted at the roots. The more experienced we are at dealing with pain, the more at ease we are with new life challenges, and we could more freely evolve through the process.

There is a beautiful balance. We must be able to differentiate between the kind of pain that is (a) good for our physical health and personal growth and (b) bad for our mental health. For example, the former would be developing writing skills or going to the gym, and the latter would be trapping ourselves within social expectations or in the past. Finding a way out of suffering and towards personal growth is a life skill that is not methodologically taught, but we need to master it on our own.

“Listen to your inner voice.” — Toy Story 4

Chi-Jui Wu 吳啟瑞

Written by

I read, write, and reflect on human lives. Previously HCI Researcher @ Lancaster, UCL, and St Andrews. Website:

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