“That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only which gives everything its value.” Thomas Paine

An obnoxious dictator gains control over an entire nation and millions of people suffer because of his abuse of power. Somewhere, a doctor says to the patient he has bad news. Somewhere, a smart student cannot continue her education because she comes from an extremely poor family. Why do these things happen? Is there justice in this world? Do we all have to struggle at some point of our lives? It seems like we do. When people find themselves in an extremely comfortable situation with no struggles on their way, they lose interest in living.

The laws of Nature imposed mental, physical, and even spiritual suffering as bridge to our enlightenment. When people achieve a high level of awareness, they understand that not everything is as good or as bad as we think it is. Comfort may negatively affect our mental, physical, and spiritual capacity, whereas pain and suffering can change us in a positive way.

Constant comfort makes people numb. Some people are rich, healthy, smart, and popular. It seems like they have everything a person could ask for. Boredom is their struggle. Some parents do everything to make the lives of their children as easy as possible. They help them with homework, they defend them when someone points out their mistakes, and they buy them everything they wish for. I’ve had plenty of such friends while I was a kid.

They grew up into unstable individuals who are ready to give up whenever they face an obstacle. They have their own struggles, too. I, on the other hand, grew up in a middle-class family, with parents who disciplined me more than necessary. The always wanted me to be the best in class, and they kept comparing my achievements to everyone else’s. I don’t think I lived through a childhood like every kid should experience. I was angry and I blamed my parents for not giving me the comfort I thought I deserved.

With time, I realized that comfort was more of an obstacle than an advantage. It doesn’t inspire people to take risks, learn new skills, and find the true meaning of life. Life has a way of shocking us, because struggles make us change. When we obtain material, professional, and academic success too easily, we don’t value the status we have achieved. Two years ago, I got a phone as a prize on a competition. It was the latest model, which was priced over $400 at that time.

I understood it was valuable, but I didn’t appreciate it as much as the old phone, which I purchased myself. I worked part-time for months to save for that gadget, and it was more valuable to me than any other fancy smartphone. It took some struggling for me to achieve a goal I was aiming for, but the personal satisfaction I earned was more valuable than any prize I would’ve taken for granted.

Very often, people who are suffering from severe illness say that the suffering purified them and helped them shed off all false masks they wore for the sake of their social status. Pain has a healing gift, even if the disease is terminal. Spiritually mature people understand suffering as a stepping stone that helps them achieve higher states of their personal growth. Nick Vujicic has been through struggles most of us cannot even imagine.

Still, he has the strength to motivate, support, and comfort millions of people. As controversial as it seems, his disorder became a blessing. Vujicic spreads an important message: regardless of the circumstances we are facing, it’s always possible to overcome the obstacles and even turn them into opportunities.

Thomas Paine was a revolutionary political activist, who understood that nothing can be perfect in society and people’s individual lives. He also said that dearness was what gave everything its value, and I can only agree with that. Unconditional love leads people to liberation from all struggles, because then we understand that no obstacle is so great to disturb the inner balance we’ve achieved. Dearness and love cannot exist without free will.

Free will is a blessing, but also a struggle, because it leads people to the ability to make bad choices, and bad choices make us suffer. No matter how much we try to understand pain and suffering, there is a great mystery behind the fact that we have to experience some discomfort in order to find true happiness. When our eyes are cleansed with tears, then we can “see” everything more clearly, and start valuing each moment of our lives.

Read new assignment prompt “Is it possible to maintain conflicting loyalties?” – by Eric Felten