There is opportunity in suffering

Most of us would agree that suffering is not desirable, but can it be useful? or in many cases, voluntary?

Many of us believe that suffering cannot be challenged and utilized to our benefit. However, we only think something “makes” us suffer because we do not know the power of our thoughts and feelings, our infinite potential.

Fifty years ago, Walter Michel at Stanford University began a series of experiments to help understand the basis for success. You have probably heard of the “marshmallow test” during which preschoolers were asked by the experimenter if they would like to have 1 marshmallow now while he did an errand down the hall or would the child like to have 2 marshmallows given to them when the man came back.

It turned out that when the numbers were crunched with later successes, the students who delayed gratification were the ones most likely to succeed. So, we developed the idea that success took grit and willpower. But in years since then, we have learned that success is really the product of developing the emotions that lead to success.

Success comes from having a value for the future, identified as gratitude, a strong sense of connection to others or compassion and a regard for one’s competence which is self-regard or pride.

Circling back to the question of opportunity in suffering, we say YES there is an opportunity in chronic pain to learn how to develop awareness, self-control, self-direction and understanding the power of your own agency as a human. You can get more marshmallows in life and reduce the suffering in chronic pain, if you use the existential approach to master your situation.

We invite you to join the conversation and share the article! What do you think about the value of suffering? Post a comment or send us an email at and visit for additional enriching content and tools for your transformation! To purchase my book New Possibilities: Unraveling the Mystery & Mastering Chronic Pain click here!

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