There is only one thing that I dread:
not to be worthy of my sufferings.
--- Fyodor Dostoevsky
Dostoevsky’s father, a violent alcoholic, served as a doctor at a hospital in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Moscow. Against his parents’ orders, he spent many hours visiting the hospital’s patients and listening to their tales of suffering.
At the age of twenty-eight, he was sentenced to hard labor at a prison camp in Siberia for belonging to a liberal intellectual group. Here’s how he described this experience: “In summer, intolerable closeness; in winter, unendurable cold. All the floors were rotten. Filth on the floors an inch thick … we were packed like herrings in a barrel.” In this suffocating environment, he had the first of many epileptic seizures.
This week, take some time to reflect on Dostoevsky’s question: Are you worthy of your suffering? In other words, have you done something with your pain?
If you were abused as a child, or had a difficult breakup, or are living with cancer, have you let your pain get the best of you or have you channeled it into something positive?
Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday each week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).