Pain & Suffering are Necessary
Three Action Thursday

Pain & Suffering are Necessary

Stephen ColbertFrom time to time someone will share something with me that is so impactful that I have to share it with my Three Action Thursday readers. A good friend of mine sent me an email with a link to a video. The video is of Anderson Cooper interviewing Stephen Colbert. It is raw, emotional, and covers a topic that I personally have never really thought about: how pain and suffering are a necessity for the full human experience. Colbert is known for his quick wit and humor, both of which do show themselves in the clip, but he also takes the viewer to a bit of a darker place in his discussion of suffering and its importance to the human condition.

“It’s a gift to exist, and with existence comes suffering. There’s no escaping that.”
– Stephen Colbert

One of my favorite online personalities, Gary Vaynerchuk, says we have a 400 Trillion to One chance at existence in the first place. Gary’s main premise is that we need to live our life to the fullest and not shortchange ourselves. Colbert, however, takes a bit of a different spin on that same thought process by saying that we are called to suffer so that we might experience empathy for others and therefore live our fullest life. He goes on to say that we can’t truly be fully human unless we have experienced both joy and pain.

CryingThere seems to be a large societal emphasis on happiness and mental health right now. I think it would be a complete change in paradigm for many to embrace suffering as part of the expected human condition rather than being surprised by its presence and continuing to wallow in its existence. It is quite a change in mindset when you realize your pain and suffering are part of being human, that these things must occur to allow you to realize the highs and feel for other people’s lows. Instead of “why me”, one can accept the situation and say “why NOT me”. That mindset shift alone can take away our hopelessness while empowering us to overcome.

I am not intending to minimize a reader’s pain and suffering, because as we all know, life does NOT distribute that evenly across all participants. Rather, I am hoping that this piece will help at least one person rise above the pain and suffering they are currently experiencing or help the reader at large handle past and future trials and tribulations with a different mindset.

Lastly, Colbert touches on something that I found interesting specifically for my Christian brothers and sisters. Even God accepted pain and suffering as a necessity when he made Jesus human. Jesus had to experience the full human condition. Why would we be exempt?


  1. Have you ever thought about pain and suffering as necessities in living a full life?
  2. Have you developed an inner mantra or prescribed yourself a specific action for when life throws its worst at you?
  3. I challenge you to take 10 minutes to perform an internal audit and review your life through the lens of pain and suffering. What role, both positive and negative, has it played in your life, and how is it affecting your life now?**

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