Is struggle necessary for happiness?

weeping angel in Columbus, MS

The weeping angel in Friendship Cemetery, Columbus, MS. This is one of the most visceral images of grief I’ve seen, and I take my Governor’s School classes to this cemetery every summer.

A passing comment on Twitter recently started an interesting conversation about how a person can achieve true happiness and peace of mind in life.

In religious discussions, the presence of evil in the world despite the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present God is often reconciled by arguing that evil is necessary. In other words, we wouldn’t be able to see and appreciate the good without the existence of evil. What I’m wondering is whether or not a similar secular argument could be made about pain and happiness.

My new Twitter friend had mentioned how they were enjoying their peace of mind, their happiness. I explained that helping other people find this state of being is one of my major goals. To this, they responded:

I found mine out of pain, the things I’ve endured has brought strength to my life. Sickness, loneliness, loss of loved ones.

This got me thinking that a lot of my true happiness has also come about because of the struggles that I’ve faced in the world. These difficult times have forced me to reflect and to see the world in new ways, and they’ve also made me stronger so that I am able to face future struggles with more strength and a more positive attitude. My friend then shared their very difficult, but amazing story with me, and drew the following conclusion:

I cannot speak for others, but I went to a very dark place before I found peace of mind. I had a good job, lost my health, my job, lost my mother, lost the social life, took care of my mother for 15 yrs, when I lost her along with all the other things, I lost myself. It has been a tough road to drive, but pain showed me what really matters, and who I am and what I want.

My question, which is important to me personally, and to the mission of Philosophy Matters, is this:

Is it necessary to go through pain and struggle to truly achieve happiness?

You may also like: