How to Suffer Effectively

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
-Anthem, Leonard Cohen

--In my kitchen, I have a small enclosed worm farm exploding with over 1,000 slimy, ravenous red wrigglers.

They eat my table scraps. They love my coffee grounds, tea bags (sans the staple, of course) and onion skins. They need the fiber from my paper towels and junk mail to digest all these things properly.

They are useful because they burn dead things into alive things. (And the chickens go absolutely nuts over them.)

Their poop (called castings) is some of the best plant food in the world. Which is why, pound-for-pound, it’s some of the most expensive plant fertilizer on the net.

Plants love it because plants crave burned death. (Not electrolytes.)

Dig deeper, this obvious truth reveals a fact of life with enormous implications…

Life requires sacrifice.

Death creates rebirth, but it also creates loss. And the knowledge of loss, of which we are all too endowed, creates suffering.

But paradoxically, the truth, the acceptance of this fact of life, makes it better.

The truth gives us power. The truth sets us free.

That is, according to Jordan Peterson.

How to Suffer Effectively

On Saturday, you’ll recall, we spoke about Peterson’s new book, 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

Yesterday, we took another deep dive. And, this morning, we emerged from the bowels of our Sunday’s self-reflection with further insight.

As Peterson told James Altucher in his latest podcast

“You have to choose your pathway of suffering.”

A big part of learning how to behave in the world is a search for how to suffer effectively. How to use the natural cycles of life and death to grow to your own potential.

And it begins with a powerful question…

“In micro levels and macro levels,” Peterson asks, “where are you not what you could be?”

When you realize and accept in what ways you are not what you could be, he says, “it’ll take you apart a little bit.”

You’ll suffer a tiny, painful death. And, with it, you’ll be given an opportunity to discard those old, dead parts of yourself — you’ll throw your scraps to the proverbial worms to burn them into new forms of life.

“It will burn you down to your core a little bit. And allow you to regenerate. And if you do that continually, then everything that you don’t need burns away.”

In mythology, this is what is represented by the Phoenix — fire, rebirth, regeneration and new, higher levels of organization.

Life is a cyclical pattern of birth, destruction and rebirth.

Denying that the forces of life are more powerful than your own is a recipe for being brutally blindsided at every turn.

Which is why…

Life includes suffering. And that’s OK.

Human beings have hard biological constraints.

We’re not ethereal chimeric angels floating in the 7th Dimension of “ALL POTENTIAL.”

We’re 3rd-Dimensional meatbags who need to eat, sleep and create waste.

We require shelter and a healthy, alive environment in order to truly thrive. Because we are intelligent, we can foster these requirements in a near-infinite amount of ways.


We are infinitely creative beings with infinite wants in a finite Universe.

It’s our gift and our curse.

And, it’s why suffering is an inescapable part of human aliveness. An indispensable thread in the fabric of the human experience.

To be sure, just because some suffering is necessary, doesn’t mean all suffering is equal or equally constructive.

Some of it is wholly unnecessary — gashes and leftover scars of fully self-inflicted wounds.

Specifically, says Peterson, the kind of suffering “that’s tainted with malevolence… You cause it, society causes it. It doesn’t have to happen. That’s the world we live in. It’s hard and it’s cruel.”

But that’s only one way of thinking about it. And, according to Peterson, every individual has a choice:

“You can choose the suffering that’s associated with deceit, arrogance, resentment, bitterness or you can choose the suffering that’s associated with truth. The suffering that’s associated with truth transcends.

“It starts to make things better. Deceit makes life worse. And truth makes it better. ”

The chaotic “grind of life,” no matter where you stand, is difficult.

“But,” says Altucher, “there are things we can do to make ourselves more okay with our chaos and the chatter between our ears. We can follow rules (like Jordan’s) or make our own. I’m doing both.”

For a deep dive, I recommend James Altucher’s latest podcast episode.

First steps, as outlined by Altucher…

STEP 1 – Get in touch with your dissatisfaction.

STEP 2 – Take stock of your life (what can you do differently? What are the small steps? Don’t actually take them (yet). Just start by learning what you don’t like and what you do like in your life right now). Do that for a week.

STEP 3 –listen to Peterson explain it himself on the The James Altucher Show.

Until tomorrow,

Chris Campbell

Chris Campbell
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today

Chris Campbell

Written By Chris Campbell

Chris Campbell is the Managing editor of Laissez Faire Today. Before joining Agora Financial, he was a researcher and contributor to