Homer Simpson: “But what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, right?”
Doctor Hibbert: “Oh, on the contrary. The heart attack has left you weak as a kitten.”
There’s a lot of wisdom in The Simpsons.
The old saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” has stuck around for a reason. Suffering really can build us up.
The pain of exercise makes us healthier. The pain of losing a loved one can make us kinder to others, if we let it. Losing a game can motivate us to be better players in the long run.
But there are exceptions. A car accident might leave you too scared to drive again. Abuse can permanently damage someone, mentally or physically. What doesn’t kill you may simply make you weaker.
The key to getting stronger isn’t suffering. It’s recovery.
Suffering without recovery is simply damage. But suffering is also necessary, because we can’t experience recovery without it. A life of pleasure is a life of weakness.
It isn’t the workout that makes us tougher, it’s the healing of the muscles afterward. It isn’t the pain of loss that makes us wiser, it’s reflection on what the loss means. Christians don’t celebrate the Crucifixion, they celebrate the Resurrection.
This is obvious enough if you think about it, but I’m not sure I ever had.
It’s a useful concept for writers if they’re working on character development.
I daresay it’s also a useful concept for humans if they’re trying to be better humans.
P.S. The fact that “daresay” is a single word makes me want to get with the English language and have its babies.