Do We Have To Learn Only From Suffering?

One day it occurred to me that I had always believed that suffering was a good thing and the primary way we learn, and I thought “why?”  Why do we believe that spiritual awakening and growth always come through negative experiences rather than through positive ones?  This, in fact, is the philosophy of most of our world.

On the day that I asked, “why?” I was fed up with negative experiences.  I thought about the life of children and how they cannot learn how to love if they are not loved.  The interactions with their parents teach them how to be human beings, for better or for worse.  It is common knowledge that criminals who commit horrendous crimes are often victims of abuse or are mentally ill.

Learning From Positive Experience

While it is true that we can learn from suffering, we need to come to understand it is not the only way.  On the day I asked “why?” I declared to the Universe, “I no longer want to learn from pain and suffering; I want my learning to come from positive experiences.”  I declared it loudly with great emotion.  What manifested were several experiences where people expressed ideas that, unknown to them, helped me to avoid mistakes or offered me deeper insights about situations.  I was reminded again how important it is to listen.

But of course, most suffering is self-inflicted.  It’s all in our minds.  We create elaborate stories to prove we are being hurt.  We’re sure a friend is unhappy with us only to find out we haven’t heard from her because there was a crisis in her business or family or she has had endless company.  We’re sure we’re going to be fired when the thought has never entered our boss’ mind.  We tend to expect the worse and by doing that we draw unpleasantness to us.

When I declared I only wanted to learn from positive experiences, I did understand that it was really me, not the Universe, that would have to change in order for that to occur.  When a problem arose, I tried to stay in a frame of mind where I expected to find a positive solution.  This often required me to first release any fears about the problem.  I also chose to avoid contentious people and situations and take responsibility for staying centered.

Letting Go Of Suffering

One very scary practice I’ve used a couple of times in my life is to affirm, “I release from my life all those people and circumstances that do not support the Divine Plan for my life and welcome into my life those people and circumstance who do support the Divine Plan for my life.”  This is what I call “cleaning the spiritual closet.”  Do not take this lightly!  I am often surprised by the amazing results of this practice.  Even when the losses from taking this action hurt, I’m always able to see what happened was for the best.  Most importantly, it reminds me who I am.  I am a spiritual being first.

The last time I did this, a really loving person became more friendly, a person I thought had dropped out of my life returned with a more supportive attitude, a totally new and loving person came into my life and a couple of negative people dropped away.  Not a bad response to one affirmation.

 Choosing A Cheerful Soul

In the end, this is just another way to let go and to get in touch again with our Divine purpose.  Eckhart Tolle explains how to end suffering better than I ever could, so please click on his name and listen to his five minute video.  We may have to experience suffering at times in our lives, but we can choose to leave it behind.  Have I succeeded in creating a life where I never have to learn through suffering?  Well, no.  It’s still a work in progress.  But more and more, I feel positive about life and am cultivating a soul that is cheerful rather than sad.  Friedrich Nietzsche said, “There is one thing one has to have: either a soul that is cheerful, or a soul made cheerful by work, love, art, and knowledge.”  I’m with you, Freddy.  I’m gradually awakening to the end of suffering and I hope you are too.

Please comment and share your thoughts and responses.

The source of much of our joy is finding our passion.  Read more at “Finding the Fire.”

© 2011 Georganne Spruce


  1. That’s a great image. Thanks for sharing Debra. You always have such helpful insights.

  2. Thank you, Georganne, for this wonderfully written reminder. It was once mentioned to me that suffering and fear…… that’s a room you walk through, not a room you stay in.

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