Thought for the Day: Suffer – it could be good for you!

In Alain De Botton’s The Consolations of Philosophy comes a quotation from Friedrich Nietzsche supporting the idea that difficulties of every sort are to be welcomed by those seeking fulfillment.

So sure was he of the benefits that could result from suffering, Nietzche wrote:

“To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities – I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished” (206).

Nietzsche noted, “If only we were fruitful fields, we would at bottom let nothing perish unused and see in every event, thing and man welcome manure” (224).

“Fulfillment is reached by responding wisely to difficulties that could tear one apart.  Nietzsche urged us to endure” (230).   And – never drink.

“Why? Because Raphael had not drunk to escape his envy in Urbino in 1504, he had gone to Florence and learned how to be a great painter.  Because Stendhal had not drunk in 1805 to escape his despair . . ., he had gardened the pain for seventeen years and published De l’amour in 1822.

‘If you refuse to let your own suffering lie upon you even for an hour and if you constantly try to prevent and forestall all possible distress way ahead of time; if you experience suffering and displeasure as evil, hateful, worthy of annihilation, and as a defect of existence, then it is clear that [you harbour in your heart] . . . the religion of comfortableness.  How little you know of human happiness, you comfortable . . . people,  for happiness and unhappiness are sisters and even twins that either grow up together or, as in your case, remain small together'” (233).

Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche – German philosopher, cultural critic, poet, philologist, and Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual… wikipedia.org
B: 1844, d.1900

Image from: https://readtiger.com/wkp/en/Friedrich_Nietzsche

Nietzsche himself had a hard life.  He was plagued with health problems.  He advocated a life among friends, but was profoundly lonely, extremely poor, obscure during his lifetime, and unlucky in love.    Wikipedia notes that “In 1889, at age 44, he suffered a collapse and a complete loss of his mental faculties.[11]  He died in 1900 from late-stage paralytic syphilis.

May the suffering in your life help you grow in numerous ways.

 

Aloha, Renée

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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

2 responses to “Thought for the Day: Suffer – it could be good for you!”

  1. Geri Sue Kliegman Rapp says :

    I feel the timing of posting this particular article is unfortunate and I admit I barely skimmed it. This is why. As I write this, they are attempting to pull countless human beings out of collapsed buildings in Mexico, all the while trying to get 10s of thousands of people to higher ground because a dam has begun to crack. In Texas and Florida, people have become homeless and have lost everything but the clothes on their backs. Puerto Rico has, for all intents and purposes, disappeared from the planet.

    • reneeriley says :

      And you have lost your brother. 😦 There is much suffering in the world, and now we know about it everywhere. Nietzsche, who himself had a very hard life, says endure – and growth will come from the pain. Sending many blessings to you. Aloha, R

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