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Hardships and overcoming them are a part of a worthwhile life

October 6, 2010

Socrates says that the unexamined life is not worth living. I would argue that that is not necessarily the case. I won’t argue that an unexamined life cannot be truly appreciated, but it can still be worth living. In essence, it is not examining our lives that make them worth living; life examination just helps us to appreciate the life we have and how we got to this point.

This of course begs the question of what does make life worth living? I can’t really claim to know what it is that makes worth living, but I think that a part of it is overcoming hardships. When we encounter troubles and suffer pain or sadness, after we get past them we can more fully enjoy the peace and happiness that is now in our lives. It is the hardships that allow us to appreciate the good things in life. It is the existence of pain, sorrow and darkness that let us enjoy pleasure, joy and the light. If you think about a life where there is no pain and no suffering, initially it sounds like a very pleasant and good thing, but if you think about it it is nothing more than complacency. Eventually, nothing that was pleasing is pleasant anymore, interest in things that gave you joy fades, and it takes something really amazing to even catch your attention, much like a heroine addiction and lesser returns. This kind of life turns us into little more than robots that drift along through life. I cannot imagine a life worth living if I can’t enjoy it or find it pleasurable. And while I do not enjoy hardships, I appreciate the new look on life they always give me. They clean out the build up of complacency and once again allow me to enjoy the smaller things. That is why overcoming hardships is something I consider to be something that makes life worth living.

I only began to think of this after reflecting on my life, or ‘examining’ as Socrates would say. The hardships were painful and I did not enjoy life during them, but when I think about my life and the enjoyment of it from before the hardships and from after, I found myself realizing that my life was far more fulfilling and enjoyable after the hardship than it was before. Examining my life helped me to appreciate the differences that the hardships and overcoming them created, but it did not in itself make my life worthwhile. It is the hardships that help me grow and it is the hardships that keep me from getting complacent. While there are many things that are required to make a life worthwhile, hardships are definitely one of them.

This being said, some will argue that the goal of life is to get to a state where hardships no longer exist, that drifting along as robots is what we really want. Please take part in the poll and cast your opinion. 

  1. Melissa Glassman permalink
    October 6, 2010 12:41 PM

    I most definitely agree that hardships are necessary to appreciate life. How can we decide when we are truly content if we have never experienced hard times. The hardships we face throughout life are what Force us to consider and yearn for more good times to come. “It is hardships that make me grow” is an extremely interesting and true statement, I believe. Although, hardships are often capable of tearing us down, they also present us with the ability to become more “well-rounded” human beings. The more good and bad times we experience throughout our lives, the more we learn to better notice and appreciate them.

  2. Andrew Babat permalink
    October 9, 2010 9:37 PM

    I definitely agree that hardships are necessary to appreciate life. Although, I disagree with your point that “the goal of life is to get to a state where hardships no longer exist.” I think hardships will always exist, and the main goal of life is to deal with hardships to the best of your ability. I think that a persons character is built by how he rebounds from adversity or hardships.

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