You're Not The Only Unhappy One: Why Suffering Is Good For The Soul

by Lauren Martin

Unhappiness hits you hard. It's absorbed into your fibers and it marinates in your blood, settling in between the corners of your brain and into your joints. It sits at the pit of your stomach, like an iron weight, making every step just a little harder, a bit more painful.

It stays with you all day, through the night, soaking into your dreams and waking you up with a sharp reminder of its presence. It pulls at your clothes and wears itself on the corners of your fake smile until you begin to forget what it feels like to be unchained to this emotion.

You walk through the day, jealous of all the people you pass. Jealous they aren’t weighed down by this problem, this insecurity, this unhappiness you carry. They can’t be as unhappy, as miserable, as depressed as you. You are the only one in the world carrying this weight. You are the only one shackled down by excess body fat, the only one who hates her body, the only one who hates his receding hair line.

You are so very wrong.

Someone, whom I consider pretty wise, once told me: “If everyone threw all their problems in a pot, you’d most likely take yours out.” Let that marinate for a moment. You think that everyone is better off than you, that no one is burdened with a problem worse than yours, but, in reality, you would probably keep your problems were you to find out about the problems of those you pass every day.

Because whomever you think has an ideal life or has a lighter conscience than you most definitely doesn’t. No matter how beautiful or handsome, wealthy or perfectly toned other people appear to be, they have their own sorrows. Because we’re all weighed down with some problem, some insecurity, some unhappiness that’s unique to our individual suffering. We are all prisoners of our own minds and the thoughts that drive us to depression.

And it’s this suffering that makes us human, that makes us able to empathize and understand one another. It’s this suffering that teaches us humility and adds value to our character. It’s what novelists write about, what philosophers study and what dramas capitalize on. It’s all around us, this human suffering. It’s the glue that holds us together as people, the moments that demand compassion and salvation.

For all of you suffering right now, going through hell and hitting your absolute rock bottom, just know that you’re not alone. You’re in Hell with the rest of us and you will get out, like the rest of us. And when you do, you will be a more worthwhile person for it.

It Builds Character

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” -Kahlil Gibran

Beautiful people aren't born, they are built. It’s the traumas, the pitfalls and the horrible moments that made you who you are today and who you will become. Your character is composed of your life experiences and your reactions to those experiences.

Because those people you’ve met who have depth and integrity most likely have experienced their own share of suffering. It's the beauty in the horrible and the ugly that rises past the experiences and truly makes the person.

It Makes You Compassionate

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” – Plato

Only once you’ve experienced pain can you understand that of others. Only when you’ve cried in the street can you feel for the woman standing on the subway, holding back tears.

It’s your suffering that helps you appreciate art, cry at sad movies and understand the complexity of human emotions. It’s how we learn to take it easy on people who are having a rough day or why we can forgive those who have wronged us.

It Toughens You Up

'Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength." – Dalai Lama XIV

When you have been through some serious suffering, you always come out the other side a stronger person. It’s those who have endured their suffering and let it teach them that have come out with thicker skin to help them get through the bad times.

It’s those with the scars who can comfortably walk through the next fire. Don't let your suffering destroy you, but build you into a stronger person.

It Gives You Perspective

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde.

When you’ve dealt with actual sorrow, you see life in a different way. You understand the importance of happiness when you do have it, and the little things in life that should be appreciated.

When you’ve felt the worse you can feel, you learn that feeling good isn’t something you should waste or take for granted. Most importantly, you also learn to see the silver lining. When everything else is going wrong, you finally see the little things that are going right.

It Keeps You Grounded

"But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." --C.S. Lewis

No matter how hot you think you are or how perfect your life is, you will always be brought down to earth with a little suffering. I'm not saying that I'm religious, but I do think that things happen for a reason and suffering is meant to keep you grounded, to remind you that you're only human.

It's your suffering, your unhappiness, that makes you realize you can't have everything in life, that you are not the best and must remember to keep your ego in check. We're going to be constantly plagued with some sort of suffering throughout our lives and the sooner we accept that, the more easily we can get through it.

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