Culture of Suffering

I have found that there is a culture of suffering in various places, especially in East Asian countries. The so-called culture of suffering advocates enduring hardships before enjoying rewards, or in other words, one must go through difficulties and obstacles in order to achieve great things.

For example, in the well-known saying "Born in suffering, die in comfort":

Shun was born in the fields, Fu Shuo was raised among the walls, Jiaogong was raised in the salt and fish industry, Guan Yiwu was raised among scholars, Sun Shuao was raised by the sea, Baili Xi was raised in the market. Therefore, when heaven is about to place a great responsibility on a person, it will first make their heart and will suffer, their muscles and bones toil, their body hungry and exhausted, their actions disrupted, so as to move their heart and temper their character, thus enhancing what they are capable of.

Another example is the ancient figures listed by Sima Qian in "Letter of Resignation":

King Wen was imprisoned and wrote the "Book of Changes";
Confucius was in distress and wrote the "Spring and Autumn Annals";
Qu Yuan was exiled and wrote the "Li Sao";
Zuo Qiuming lost his sight and wrote the "Gongyang Commentary";
Sun Zi had a limp and wrote the "Art of War";
Bu Wei moved to Shu and left behind the "Lu Lan";
Han Fei was imprisoned by the state of Qin and wrote the "Difficulties of Debate" and "The Grieved";
The "Book of Songs" with its three hundred poems was mostly the result of the efforts and dedication of the sages.

Suffering does indeed have the effect of inspiring fighting spirit in certain situations and for some people, but I believe that suffering should not be seen as a prerequisite for success.

I have made this kind of mistake before - when I was practicing table tennis as a child, in order to improve my ability to receive the ball, I would use tape to fix the broken balls and continue to use them. This made the surface of the ball irregular and the path of the rebound unpredictable, in order to train my reaction ability and demonstrate my diligence. However, the effect of this was minimal because normal balls do not rebound in such a way. In the end, it became a joke when my sister thought I didn't have money to buy balls and secretly bought me a few new ones.

At that time, I believed too much in the idea that I could improve my table tennis skills through suffering, while also harboring a desire to show off to others, which is what is known as superficial work. This incident left a deep impression on me because the education I received unknowingly implanted the culture of suffering in my heart, which conflicted with my own values that formed in adulthood.

When I look back on my past experiences, the key moments in life, the key choices, and the formation of my personal character did not come from the suffering I experienced or from the harm and belittlement of others, but rather from the people who loved me and my own reflection. It was their encouragement and support that helped me grow bit by bit.

However, this culture of suffering has become so deeply ingrained in society that it can be seen everywhere in daily life. For example, there is the saying "After bitterness comes sweetness" when drinking tea, and the teaching of "Only by enduring hardship can one become superior" when educating children.

Because of this, many people have accepted or even distorted this culture, believing that in order to succeed, they must endure suffering, even if it is unnecessary, they will forcefully create some "suffering" to endure, which is self-inflicted suffering.

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