Pain’s gains

The English language is made up of thousands of words that can make an almost infinite number of phrases and sayings. Out of these myriad expressions there is one that I hate above all others: “why me?”

As in, “This is so terrible; why did it happen to me?” or “that car could’ve hit anyone; why me?”

These phrases feel like poison in my ears—what they really mean is “this should’ve happened to someone else.” We are both instinctually wired and culturally acclimatized to revile whatever hurts us, and many of us would don the hedonistic belief that pleasure is life’s greatest calling.

It’s this mindset that convinces us not to work hard and resist temptation, and so our country has an obesity problem. This same mindset fuels our inability to delay pleasure, making us think, “I see it, I want it,” and so our continent is mired in debt.

This should not be the case.

Life is suffering, and life isn’t over any time soon, so it’s time to change the approach. Every opportunity to suffer is an opportunity to be great, and to showcase your moral fortitude and humanity.

When tragedy touches your life, don’t wring your hands and mourn your lot—accept it, embrace it.

When the opportunity comes to say “why did this happen to me,” say “thank goodness this happened to me and not someone else.” The errant spark that burns your house down is the same that could have destroyed your neighbor’s home.

Kahlil Gibran said that “pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding,” and by looking through this lens, we gain a new perspective on our tribulations. Think of them instead as growing pains: a necessary part of your evolution into a mature and fully formed creature.

It is heartbreak and sorrow that carves us into our optimal shape—steel gets its strength from being tempered in fire.

I’m mixing my metaphors, but I think you get the idea.

When grief or unhappiness surprises you, confront it. Fleeing from or burying it away is to miss a chance to become something better.

So please, never ever say “why did it have to be me,” because when you let slip those few words, you’re speaking countless volumes about who you are on a basic level, and it doesn’t sound very good at all.

If you can’t think of something constructive to say, then say nothing. Suffering in silence is a time-honoured virtue that needs to make a comeback.

Just don’t say, “why me?”; that pain is yours, make it your own.

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