Nov. 24, 2021

why you should seek out suffering.

why you should seek out suffering.

We spend most of our 20s doing everything we can to climb the ladder.

And rightly so. This is the most ambitious period of our lives, and so we should spend our days gameplanning ways to build a better life for ourselves and those closest to us.

But we shouldn’t spend all of our time with that mindset. Because the cold, hard truth is this:

Anything can be taken from you at any moment.

You can severely injure yourself. Online hackers can steal your entire life savings. A pandemic-caused recession can take away your job.

And you must keep this in the back of your mind at all times.

As you go about enjoying life’s many pleasures, remind yourself that it can go to zero overnight.

But you must take it one step further.

You have to actually act like it has.

Every once in a while, you need to practice suffering. Discomfort. Inconvenience.

You need to voluntarily put yourself in adverse situations so that when misfortune inevitably strikes, you’re equipped to handle it.

Now, you don’t need to take it to the extreme. I’m not asking you to sleep outside in December or subsist on ramen noodles for a week.

But maybe you wake up really early one day, before the sun comes up, as opposed to staying warm under the covers as you scroll TikTok.

On a cold day, maybe you turn the heat off in your home and in your car.

The next time it rains, go for a 30 minute walk.

When you’re hungry, don’t immediately eat. Maybe give it some time before stuffing your face.

These are not drastic measures, but rather simple reminders. Reminders that, as you (hopefully) make vertical progress in your 20s, you can lose it all at the drop of a hat.

Too often, we see people’s lives shattered when adversity hits. Not because of what they’ve lost, but because they don’t know how to respond.

Because they’ve adapted to a certain standard of living, they’re unable to accept anything below it once that standard suddenly disappears.

You can’t let that happen.

From time to time, you must get back to your roots. 

It’s likely that there was a time in college where you slept in a cramped AC-less dorm room. You can recall that first year in the corporate world where you drank exclusively Bud Lights and ate frozen dinners because it was all you could afford.

You can’t ever forget that person. You must keep that person inside of you at all times, no matter how prominent you get, how much money you make or how “successful” you become.

Practice suffering. Deliberately set aside time for hardship. For inconvenience. Make things harder on yourself when you can.

It sounds strange and counterintuitive. Isn’t that the type of lifestyle we should be running from in pursuit of something greater?

Yes, of course.

But it must always remain a small sliver of who you are.

Anything can be taken from you at any moment.

When that moment comes, you must be ready.