Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lent & Suffering: It’s not just for Catholics after all

By Arthur Brooks

We don’t want to suffer — we hate it, in fact. Yet it is suffering that often brings personal improvement. Not all pain is beneficial, obviously. But researchers have consistently found that most survivors of illness and loss experience “post-traumatic growth.” Not only do many people find a greater emotional maturity after suffering; they are even better prepared to help others deal with their pain. The Tao Te Ching extends the metaphor: “Difficult and easy accomplish each other, long and short form each other, high and low distinguish each other.” And in this season of Lent, hundreds of millions of Catholics are pondering their own inadequacies and inviting discomfort through abstinence and fasting. Think of it as a personal declaration of independence. The objective is not to cause yourself damage, but to accept the pain and fear that are a natural part of life, and to embrace them as a valuable source of lessons to learn and tests to pass. Now that’s rebellion for grown-ups.  [link]