Does an Easy Life Make One "Allergic" to Suffering?

I notice people saying things like, “Life provides enough suffering without mortification” and stuff like that.
This is despite the fact that life is about the easiest it’s ever been in history. And those who had it MUCH, MUCH harder than us still felt they should practice mortifications.

So this makes me wonder, does living such an easy life as we have make it seem like any little suffering stands out, making us “allergic” to it, in a sense?

We complain so much about the most asinine things, like what is called “first world problems”.

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i think in the ‘first world’ we have it easier in a lot of ways, but suffering is always relative and there is always someone worse off than us.

I’m sure my mom is grateful for the perks and luxuries we have, but it doesn’t take away the pain of her husband of almost 55 years having been gone for 13, or the pain the mother of my friend, who died 30 years ago this September, has felt every day since the day of his accident. I have a great job, own a home, am married to a man who loves me more than life itself, and have a reliable car and plenty of food, but I don’t know that my heart won’t keep breaking every time I see a baby and know I most likely will never have one.

I think there’s things many of us can imagine that we might sometimes take for granted (like literally starving, or not being able to heat our homes - or worse, not having a home to heat to start with), but we all have our crosses to bear. We all suffer in some way. Life isn’t fair for anyone, really, even if we might think otherwise viewing it from the sidelines.


Some times I wonder if there is a kind of set-point for happiness, and if nothing is stressing you in the physical world, (famine or poverty or war), then your own brain starts to torment you. (I’m not as popular as this person or go on cool vacations like that person, or so-and-so was mean to me).

There’s another ongoing thread here about are we happier than 100 years ago and yet a different thread about the increasing rates of depression.

I mean, there are people who have economic advantages, but still suffer–like the loss of a loved one, or a painful relationship with family members.
I personally know a millionaire who died estranged from his own kids. The lure of inheriting his millions wasn’t inducement enough for his kids to come near after decades of unhealthy interactions.

But yes, I could imagine that a low-tension life would leave your resiliency underdeveloped so you couldn’t handle high levels of stress.

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And in a way, it is precisely this relativity that I think is at the heart of my sentiment.
Not eating for a couple days seems easier when you have to go for longer without food, or eating all your meals with bitter herbs seems easier if you mostly can just eat bread anyway.

And, those in the past with all the difficulties of losing their loved ones or not having children, along with much other pains we don’t have today, still would mortify themselves.

We are so very weak today.

Suffering has to be put into perspective. I am doing some reading today and found this:
‘The greatest obstacle, indeed, the only obstacle, is that we are not free from passions and lusts,
that we do not try to follow the perfect way of the saints. Thus when we encounter some slight
difficulty, we are too easily dejected and turn to human consolations. If we tried, however, to stand
as brave men in battle, the help of the Lord from heaven would surely sustain us. For He Who gives
us the opportunity of fighting for victory, is ready to help those who carry on and trust in His grace.’ - The Imitation of Christ

I honestly don’t believe that.

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Our society is trying to focus on eliminating suffering. Making things more efficient and reducing suffering seem to be the two biggest goals. So of course suffering will stand out today in “first world” countries, even if it’s only small. Everyone seems to like to complain because they think they aren’t supposed to suffer at all.

I do think that has an effect on our views of suffering. We’re not really “used to it.”

It does if you are citing specific forms of suffering.
No if it’s a broad non-specified suffering as others on this thread have led me to believe.

Another thing about suffering. They say it makes you more resilient. Maybe. But the fact is, sometimes you just do not get used to it even though you experience it regularly.

Very base example. Born and living in a tropical country all my life. It is summer right now, and very very hot. I am getting prickly heat on my skin. My point? My body or my skin didn’t get to a point where it becomes ‘used’ to extreme heat, and I do not feel uncomfortable anymore.


Everyone experiences suffering, but in different kinds and degrees.

An example of a ‘good’ cross or problem to have is what a priest mentioned in a homily, the problem of a growing congregation. It is good because it means people are attending Mass.

Another good cross is what summer activity to sign up your children for, because there are many options and you have difficulty choosing just three.

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Voluntary mortification leads to a spirit open to suffering which may lead to the strength we need to carry our cross.

A fear of suffering makes one repulsed by the idea and “sensitive” to the pain.

Both extremes, but if we willingly accept our crosses then perhaps there would be less complaining and more resilient souls growing in virtue.


Another way to look at it is all the small inconveniences that come our way are crosses designed by God as opposed to the penaces we exercise are crosses desgned by us. God’s crosses are better.

As others say I definitely think there is some amount of relative experience that comes into play. This is why we can see very wealthy people get upset at the slightest inconvenience. But we have also built our lives around the expectations that we’ll live under certain conditions.

For example, if my car broke down I’d get upset. Someone might say well at least you have a car. That would be true. But I might have taken a job thirty minutes away by car. Now without a working car I can’t get to work. In the past people wouldn’t have taken a job so far away because they couldn’t walk to it. It is true that I would have chosen the job. But in a sense if I want to be a part of modern society I have to be able to make such choices.

I get upset when my air conditioning goes out. But I live in the South. When the AC is out my home gets extremely hot and humid. It is very uncomfortable. My home was built for AC. It wasn’t built with tall ceilings or lots of big, wide windows to let air circulate and keep it cool without AC. It wasn’t until AC was widespread that there was a sudden migration to the South. Most people find the summer climate very uncomfortable and would avoid it without AC.

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To the degree that we attach ourselves to secondary goods we are disappointed. Progress and ease of life can lead to indifference and stagnation. We should try to alleviate suffering wherever we see it. But the works of mercy are hopefully not an end in themselves, but show others the face of God. We do the works of mercy for others so that suffering might not crush them into anger, resentment, and despair.

Prosperity, comfort, progress, medical care, civil rights…these are all good things that point us to God as our end and beatitude. To the degree we make them final substitutes for God, we will be disappointed, and the suffering that results will be defeating rather than holistic.

My friend has a saying " life is never as good as you think it is, and it is never as bad either".
We are whole people. and suffering is just as part of that whole as comfort.

We all suffer; suffering is part of the human condition. However, one who has the grace to suffer serenely rather than noisily has achieved the “easy” life.

Attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” But Nietzsche took (w/o attribution?) from St. Paul, "… but we even boast of our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:3-5).

The “easy” life is the life in Christ, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

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