Tarnya Davis | The value of suffering

Many today are determined to pursue a life of pleasure devoid of suffering, and this also applies to parenting. No one relishes their children’s suffering, but a friend once said she never wanted her child to experience any suffering at all.

The story of Buddha’s father is perhaps the most extreme example, with him creating a sanitised life for Buddha inside the city walls. As any rebellious teenager would, Buddha decided to see what else was out there. The result became a religion that teaches the acceptance of suffering in life.  

We in the west are beginning to understand the cost of seeking only pleasure in life. We are understanding also the importance of accepting pain as a part of life, rather than simply running from it.   

We are starting to understand also that perhaps suffering might be the most useful part of life. Striving and applying ourselves can make us happier in the long run rather than the short-term pleasures of indulgence.  

Author Mark Manson, in his excellent book with a cheeky title, explores the value of suffering in living a good life. He reminds us that seeking pleasure is like chasing a false god. Freud once said, “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful”.

What struggles will be yours to look back on as the greatest moments, and how can you help your children understand this important lesson?

Tarnya Davis is a clinical and forensic psychologist and principal of NewPsych Psychologists. A book of her columns, All Things Considered, is available online at theherald.com.au