The “Find Meaning in the Suffering” Exercise

In Embracing Uncertainty, Susan included dozens of exercises to help us with all parts of our lives. In her chapter titled “Finding Your Meaning and Purpose,” she describes The “Find Meaning in the Suffering” Exercise. Here is an excerpt from the book:

There is no question that life includes both joy and suffering. As you have already learned, our suffering is lessened when we can find the meaning and purpose in it all. .. When we can find meaning in the suffering, we survive it all with a sense of gratitude rather than upset.

This doesn’t mean that when bad times occur there aren’t times of intense pain, fear, and upset… But at some point, we say to ourselves, ‘Okay, enough pain. Let’s see how I can use this experience to create a better world out there, for myself and everyone around me.’ … So your task in this exercise is to:

  1. Make a list of all that is going wrong in your life, all that is causing you to suffer, and determine that you will find a way to find the blessings. And then …
  2. Look for ways in which you can express your meaning and purpose through the suffering. You will find many ways of doing this.

It is important to pay attention to what life is giving you through any suffering you are experiencing. If you don’t pay attention, you will miss the opportunity in it all; if you do pay attention, you will see all the gifts that are there to enrich your life and the lives of so m any others.