To undergo a penalty, pain, or loss in defending a principle, ideal, goal, or movement.

— Suffering-a-cause, 26

to undergo or feel pain or distress.
to sustain injury, disadvantage, or loss.
to undergo a penalty, as of death.
to endure pain, disability, death, etc., patiently or willingly.
to undergo, be subjected to, or endure (pain, distress, injury, loss, or anything unpleasant).
to undergo or experience (any action, process, or condition).
to tolerate or allow.

…in defending a principle, ideal, goal, or movement.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.Helen Keller
There is a tremendous strength that is growing in the world through… sharing together, praying together, suffering together, and working together.Mother Teresa

The glory to come far outweighs the affliction of the present. The affliction is light and temporary when compared with the all-surpassing and everlasting success of our cause. It is not merely that the success of our cause is compensation for the suffering; the success actually grows out of the suffering. There is an organic relation between the two.

Whenever evil befalls us, we ought to ask ourselves, after the first suffering, how we can turn it into good. So shall we take occasion, from one bitter root, to raise perhaps many flowers?Leigh Hunt

Non nobis solum nati sumus

Non nobis solum nati sumus (English: Not unto ourselves alone are we born) is a Latin motto. It means that people should contribute to the general greater good of humanity, apart from their own interests and more often than not, those contributions should be done with some suffering. Ideally to suffer a cause that is bigger than ones self. The motto is derived from a sentence in Cicero’s most influential philosophical work, his treatise On Duties (Latin: De Officiis). In full, Cicero writes, non nobis solum nati sumus ortusque nostri partem patria vindicat, partem amici (“We are not born, we do not live for ourselves alone; our country, our friends, have a share in us”). The sentence, as Cicero himself says, is a literal translation of a sentiment from Plato’s Letter to Archytas. Cicero associates this concept with the Stoic ideal that all men have a natural kinship with all other men and need to “contribute to the general good by an interchange of acts of kindness. The motto is used by numerous organizations, including schools and military units.

all of us ought to have some kind of cause, some kind of purpose in our lives that is bigger than our own individual hopes, dreams, wants, and desires. At the end of our life, we ought to be able to look back over it from our deathbed and know that somehow the world was a better place because we have lived, we loved, we were other-centered, other focused.Joe Erhmann

Suffering a Cause

We live in a world that runs from suffering. Since the time of our youth, we have been conditioned to view suffering as an impediment to happiness. This worldview which is so imbued in our culture, tells us, that the less we suffer, the happier we will be. Yet, in the writings of some of the most successful people in the history of the world, we find an entirely different reality; that it is precisely suffering that strengthens us, humbles us, and forges us into men and women of great virtue. But more than this, we discover that suffering for a just cause is of such inestimable redemptive worth, that nothing equals it.

…but they (mankind) make their recovery impossible, since all of them are weak and afflicted by many vices, for which the only remedy is suffering…tribulation earns the pardon of the just Judge. By the bitterness of sorrow and affliction the vapors of vice are allayed; the excesses of man’s irascible passions are crushed; pride and haughtiness are humiliated; the flesh is subdued; the inclination to vice is repressed; the judgment is cleared; the will is brought within bounds and its desultory movements at the call of the passions, are corrected; and above all, when the cause is just, love is poured out by humanity to those who embrace suffering with patience. In this science of suffering are renewed all the blessed riches of the creatures; those that fly from them are insane, those that know nothing of this science are foolish.Mary of Agreda on suffering

Suffering can be defined as the removal or reduction (some curtailment or loss) of one or more of the things that make up the good things of life as we know it, things we call details of life. Details of life are any of dozens of features that make up a person’s life, things related to his personal life, family life, social life, or community and national life. Things like loved ones, friends, money, cars, health, marriage, sex, job, house, possessions, social life, etc., are all details of life; and when you lose or sacrifice one of these things that you enjoy, the result is suffering. If you voluntarily surrender some of your “details of life” in support of a cause, you are “suffering a cause”.

We identify two types of happiness in life. The first type is human happiness which is happiness derived from any of the details of life. The other type is spiritual happiness which is the inner joy produced as part of the fruit of the spirit though the advancement of a virtuous way of life.

Human happiness is temporary and dependent. It lasts only as long as the thing that provides the happiness. It depends on a detail of life to sustain it. Spiritual happiness is not dependent on the “physical things” that Human happiness is. In fact, through suffering a cause and intentionally depriving yourself of “things” you can grow spiritual happiness.

One way of describing suffering is to say that suffering comes from the removal of the human happiness. You can see, then, that if a person possesses spiritual joy, the loss of human happiness is much more tolerable.

Suffering occurs by several means in human life, including the following:

  • Suffering by loss of health – physical pain, illness, accident, loss of function, etc.
  • Suffering by privation – the lack of something necessary such as food, shelter, clothing, transportation.
  • Suffering from the weather – freezing weather or hot, storms, tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, as well as earthquakes, volcanos.
  • Suffering from mental anguish – worry, sorrow, anguish, fears, phobias, bitterness, jealousy, not the least of which is “suffering by anticipation”.
  • Suffering from justice or injustice, the long arm of the law, deserved or undeserved.
  • Suffering caused by other people.
Through this toilsome world, alas! Once and only once I pass; If a kindness I may show, If a good deed I may do To a suffering fellow man, Let me do it while I can. No delay, for it is plain I shall not pass this way again.Unknown
But a somewhat more liberal and sympathetic examination of mankind will convince us that the cross is even older than the gibbet, that voluntary suffering was before and independent of compulsory; and in short that in most important matters a man has always been free to sacrifice himself for the cause.G. K. Chesterton

The Hero who Suffers a Cause

Heroism is the brilliant triumph of the soul over the flesh, that is to say over fear: fear of poverty, of suffering, of calumny, of illness, of loneliness and of death. There is no real piety without heroism. Heroism is the dazzling and glorious concentration of courage.Henri Frédéric Amiel

Think about the Hero that gives up something for the sake of an ideal or a cause.

  • He/She can suffer for the sake of their word
  • He/She can suffer for the benefit of their people or mankind in general
  • He/She can suffer for the life or lives of their family
  • He/She can suffer for the sake of their faith
  • He/She can suffer in the interests of their country

Putting oneself in harm’s way for the sake of ideals might seem stupid for some, but for many it demonstrates admirably high personal integrity. It may be questioned whether such suffering is done for internal reasons of faith or for the external acclaim that will be gained. Martyrdom in some societies is considered a great honor for the family (as well as promising heavenly delights to the martyr).

Most of us, however, would think twice before undergoing any suffering, as the instinct for self-preservation takes priority over the cognitive choice of sacrifice. This makes stories of suffering for a noble cause either moving or terrifying, depending on the action involved.

Suffering a cause need not involve giving of one’s life. All it really means is giving up something that you would rather not give up. Often it involves a dilemma, where one desired thing is given up in favor of something even more desired.

Never to suffer would never to have been blessed.Edgar Allan Poe
To perceive is to suffer.Aristotle
In the part of this universe that we know there is great injustice, and often the good suffer, and often the wicked prosper, and one hardly knows which of those is the more annoying.Bertrand Russell

5 Reasons To Suffer a Cause

Dr Albert Schweitzer was born in 1875 and was brought up at Gunsbach, in Alsace, where the cultures of France and Germany meet, and the influences of the Catholic and Protestant faiths mingle in unusual tolerance. His father was the local Protestant pastor. The family was deeply musical: both Albert’s grandfathers were well-known organists.

Discipline and concentration, added to his natural gifts, earned him a brilliant academic career. Everything he touched he did supremely well. At Strasbourg, he took his doctorate with a thesis on the religious philosophy of Kant. In Paris, he studied organ music under Charles Marie Widor, one of the great musicians of his time, and eventually surpassed his master in the interpretation of Bach. But in his flood of early success, Schweitzer remained pre-occupied with the suffering of others.

At the age of twenty-one, he made his famous decision – that he would live for science and art until he was thirty, and thereafter would devote his life to serving humanity. He renounced his academic future in Europe to qualify as a doctor, and spent his life at the edge of the damp disease-ridden Equatorial forest of the Belgian Congo serving his fellow humanity.

Here was a man who knew how to suffer a cause.

Now here are five reasons why you and I need to fulfill our life’s mission…

1. Permission

You do not have to wait for anyone else’s permission to fulfill the mission you have been given to fulfill in your lifetime. Probably some of the first questions you need to ask yourself are, ‘What is my mission? What are my peculiar gifts? What can I bring to this world to make it a better place?’

2. Commission

Know for a fact that you have been placed on this planet for a purpose. In fact, you have been commissioned by the creator to use what you have to the best of your ability. You were never given your gifts as a human being to shut them up in a box, put them on a shelf, or bury them in the ground. They were deposited into your life for one reason and one reason only – to be developed and used to be a blessing to you, to those around you while at the same time pleasing your creator.

3. Admission

Whenever I go to the movies I have to pay an admission price. To fulfill your life’s mission there will always be a price that needs to be paid. If music is your mission then hours of practice must be your price. Some pay with finance. Some pay with time, while others pay the ultimate price with their lives in order to fulfill their mission. But in all cases, for a mission to be completed, there must be a price paid.

4. Submission

Stop fighting against your mission. You must identify it, submit to it and like with any submission – you need then to submit it to the world. In a sense – first you must give in to your mission and once that is completed your mission is then to give.

5. Omission

In order for you to find your mission there are many things that you must discard. The distraction of generality is one of the enemies of a mission led life. Too many choices or in fact, the inability to choose can threaten your life’s mission. At some point in your life you must choose to let go in order to embrace the true mission of your life.

Fear stops many from doing this. But faith will allow you to choose, pursue, grasp, and discard simultaneously so that the ‘one clearly defined purpose’ for your life is achieved.

Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.Helen Keller
You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Man has to suffer. When he has no real afflictions, he invents some.Jose Marti
I have not yet met with a sorrow that could not be borne, nor with one who’s passing did not leave me stronger.Kathryn L. Nelson
I cannot believe that the inscrutable universe turns on an axis of suffering; surely the strange beauty of the world must somewhere rest on pure joy!Louise Bogan
People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.Thich Nhat Hanh

The following questions are designed to help us “consider” in the day of suffering:

  1. How am I responding to it?
  2. How should I respond to it?
  3. Am I learning from it?
  4. Does my response demonstrate faith, love for others, virtue, character, values, commitment, priorities, etc.?
  5. How can I use this suffering to further the cause?
The sufferings that fate inflicts on us should be borne with patience, what enemies inflict with manly courage.Thucydides
The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.Thomas Merton
People have to really suffer before they can risk doing what they love.Chuck Palahniuk

Can’t Figure Out What Cause to Suffer?

Here are 15 Questions to Help You Discover your “Cause to Suffer”.

The following are a list of questions that can assist you in discovering your “cause”. They are meant as a guide to help you get into a frame of mind that will be conducive to defining your personal mission.

Simple Instructions:

  • Take out a few sheets of loose paper and a pen.
  • Find a place where you will not be interrupted. Turn off your cell phone.
  • Write the answers to each question down. Write the first thing that pops into your head. Write without editing.
  • Use point form. It’s important to write out your answers rather than just thinking about them.
  • Write quickly. Give yourself less than 60 seconds a question. Preferably less than 30 seconds.
  • Be honest. Nobody will read it. It’s important to write without editing.
  • Enjoy the moment and smile as you write.

Here are the 15 Questions:

  1. What makes you smile? (activities, people, events, hobbies, projects, etc.)
  2. What are your favorite things to do in the past? What about now?
  3. What activities make you lose track of time?
  4. What makes you feel great about yourself?
  5. Who inspires you most? (Anyone you know or do not know. Family, friends, authors, artists, leaders, etc.) Which qualities inspire you, in each person?
  6. What are you naturally good at? (Skills, abilities, gifts etc.)
  7. What do people typically ask you for help in?
  8. If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
  9. What would you regret not fully doing, being or having in your life?
  10. You are now 90 years old, sitting on a rocking chair outside your porch; you can feel the spring breeze gently brushing against your face. You are blissful and happy, and are pleased with the wonderful life you’ve been blessed with. Looking back at your life and all that you’ve achieved and acquired, all the relationships you’ve developed; what matters to you most? List them out.
  11. What are your four deepest values? (prioritized)
  12. What were some challenges, difficulties and hardships you’ve overcome or are in the process of overcoming? How did you do it?
  13. What causes do you strongly believe in? Connect with?
  14. If you could get a message across to a large group of people. Who would those people be? What would your message be?
  15. Given your talents, passions and values. How could you use these resources to serve, to help, to contribute? (to people, beings, causes, organization, environment, planet, etc.)

Now you have a list of all the things that are most important to you. Whatever “cause” you choose to support, it should align with your list of the values and goals that you just wrote. If it doesn’t then you should reconsider the “cause”. For every new opportunity that comes along, I should ask your-self how it aligns with your goals.

We were all sent here for a reason and that we all have significance in the world. We are all blessed with unique gifts. The expression of our gifts to others contributes to a cause greater than ourselves.

We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ”Blessed are they that mourn.”C.S. Lewis quotes

Suffering Defined

What is suffering? What are these bends in the road that fate puts in the path of life that we are to carefully consider? Simply stated, suffering is anything which hurts or irritates. In the design of things, it is also something to make us think. It is a tool to get our attention and to force us to do things in our lives in a way that would never occur without the trial or irritation.

Illustrations of Suffering

“It may be cancer or a sore throat. It may be the illness or loss of someone close to you. It may be a personal failure or disappointment in your job or school work. It may be a rumor that is circulating in your office or your church, damaging your reputation, bringing you grief and anxiety.

The Nature of Suffering

Suffering is Painful. Suffering is hard. It is never easy. Regardless of what we know and how much we think we are prepared for it, it is going to hurt.

Suffering is Perplexing

Suffering is somewhat mysterious. We may know some of the theological reasons for suffering, yet when it hits, there is still a certain mystery. Why now? Why here? Is this in the plan of things?

Suffering is Purposeful

Suffering is not without meaning in spite of its mystery. It has as its chief purpose the formation of virtue.

Suffering Proves, Tests Us

“Trials” is the Greek peirasmos and refers to that which examines, tests, and proves the character or integrity of something. “Testing” in this same verse is dokimion which has a similar idea. It refers to a test designed to prove or approve. Suffering is that which proves one’s character and integrity along with both the object and quality of one’s faith in the cause.

Suffering is a Process

We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, proven character and virtue. As a process, it takes time.

Suffering is a Purifier

Suffering for a cause is a purifier for none of us will ever be perfect in this life.

Suffering Provides Opportunity

Suffering provides opportunity for transformation.

Suffering Requires Our Cooperation

We all want the product, virtuous character; but we don’t want the process, suffering. Because of our make up as human beings, we can’t have one without the other.

The question we must each face is not, “if” we are going to have trials in life, but how will we respond to them and how will we be true to our cause.

Man is a living soul who must be tested in suffering and deathEarthly Powers
You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.Henri Frederic Amiel
Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind.William Aristotle
The symbol of the New Testament and the Christian Church is a cross, which stands for a love faithful despite physical agony and rejection by the world. No amount of air-conditioning and pew-cushioning in the suburban church can cover over the hard truth that the Christian life… is a narrow way of suffering; that discipleship is costly: that, for the faithful, there is always a cross to be carried. No one can understand Christianity to its depths who comes to it to enjoy it as a pleasant weekend diversion.W. Waldo Beach

What a waste!

In his excellent book, Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper tells about Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards, who died in April, 2000, in Cameroon, West Africa. Ruby was over eighty, had been single all her life, and had spent her life making the gospel known among the unreached, poor, and sick. Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, pushing eighty, who served with Ruby in Cameroon. Their brakes failed, the car went over a cliff, and they both were killed instantly. Piper asks, “Was that a tragedy? Two lives, driven by one great passion, namely, to be spent in unheralded service to the perishing poor —even two decades after most of their American counterparts had retired to throw away their lives on trifles.” He answers, “No, that is not a tragedy. That is a glory. These lives were not wasted. And these lives were not lost. Their suffering for a cause had inspired thousands.

He continues, “I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Readers Digest, which tells about a couple who ‘took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast … when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells When Piper first read that, he thought that it was a joke, a spoof on the American dream. But it wasn’t. Rather, this was the dream: “Come to the end of your life—your one and only precious life, —and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before their Creator at the great day of judgment:

“Look, Lord. See my sea shells.”

“ Lord, my slow pitch batting average was .452”

Piper concludes, “That is a tragedy.” He rightly urges, “Don’t buy it (that golfing, fishing, traveling version of the American retirement dream). Don’t waste your life.” Suffer a cause! Get out there and serve others. Make this a better world before you are gone!

Pain hardens, and great pain hardens greatly, whatever the comforters say, and suffering does not ennoble, though it may occasionally lend a certain rigid dignity of manner to the suffering frame.Antonia S. Byatt
The whole of what we know is a system of compensations. Each suffering is rewarded; each sacrifice is made up; every debt is paid.Ralph Waldo Emerson

Retirement without a Cause Leads to a Loss of Significance

By Philip Smith

Somebody is boring me. I think it’s me.Dylan Thomas
The most daring escapes are not from prisons, but from self-imposed duties, responsibilities, and limitations.Unknown
Habit is a cable. We weave a thread of it every day, and at last we cannot break it.Horace Mann
Many people don’t realize my importance immediately, and a surprising number never realize it at all.Ashley Brilliant


Retirement is not an easy task, especially for men. This statement is self-evident to those who have participated in the retirement process, but isn’t obvious to those who long for the expected bliss of retirement. The following lesson deals with miscellaneous thoughts concerning the preparation for retirement. Financial, health, relationship, and other aspects are shown in other Practicing Significance lessons. However, the presumption inherent in this lesson is that you have done or will do the preparations necessary to give you the freedom to make a wide range of decisions. The more limited you are with financial, relationship or health concerns, the more limited will be many of your life-style choices. For example, if you want to continue living in your beloved home (even though it is too big now that the kids are gone), but cannot afford the repair bills, utility bills, taxes, and mortgage payments, you may have to choose a less desirable residence.

Retirement Preparation

Successful retirement preparation requires the willingness to learn, plan, and be optimistic. The ideas needed to do this learning and planning can come from a variety of sources, including: books, conversations with retirees, movies, and the AARP.

Before taking a look at the positive actions to take, it is necessary (though mildly uncomfortable) to look at some of the problems and traps that can await the unprepared. In no particular order:

  • The number one reason why men (and some women) have a hard time retiring is…they get their identity from work. These people see life through the lens of their occupation. They relate to all others, including their families, through the filter of their employment. Listen as almost any two men meet. Within a few sentences they will try to find out the occupation of the other. It’s how they can size up each other quickly, it’s how they find something to talk about, and it’s how they find a way to be comfortable. With this worldview, it’s impossible to retire without a tremendous readjustment. The more important your job makes you feel, the harder will be your readjustment after retiring. In fact, many people find it impossible to ever retire because they can’t separate themselves from their work. The solution is to realize years before retirement that work is a means to help you meet your goals and fulfill your purposes, it is not your purpose in life.
  • As a corollary to the above point, if you were “important” in your job, expect to find that you will no longer be so. Your importance came from your job and your company. Suppliers and salesmen will not be calling, subordinates will not be asking for advice, your financial wizardry will no longer be needed, and you and your spouse will have to introduce yourselves in a different manner. Remember, the old saying, “the bigger they are the harder they fall.” Most of us greatly miss intellectual fellowship, solving problems, having approval from our peers, and having a career purpose. It will be important to find our “importance” in another manner.
  • Be prepared to find that they will do quite well without you at work. Remember how many others have left your company in the past with little repercussion? Well, the same is going to happen when you leave. This can be psychologically devastating. In the 2003 Jack Nicholson film, About Schmidt, are a couple of painful scenes showing how gut-wrenchingly sad this can be. The only way to prepare is to absolutely know it is going to happen, and not hope otherwise. Take this as proof that you helped them successfully make the transition, and use it as a freeing event so that you can go anywhere, anytime.
  • Be prepared to miss certain perks from your job. You may have had travel, entertainment, computer, or even personal paperwork perks.
  • If you were not happy in your job, it is possible that you will not be happy in retirement. The problem may not lie within your job, but within another aspect of your life. Consider counseling long before you retire.
  • The first year of retirement can be very disorienting. Expect to feel a bit lost as you learn a new life-style. Most of us have a sense of loss during this period.
  • Many people think they will be happy after retirement because their days will consist of playing golf or tennis or bridge, they will travel all over the U.S. or the world, or they will do all of those many leisure activities they have long dreamed of. Although some people are able to be happy with a continual leisure schedule, most of us tire of it pretty quickly. Once again, the solution lies in knowing your purposes and pursuing them both before and after retirement. If you do so, leisure will take its proper and pleasant place in your life.
  • Like any life-changing event, give yourself six months after retirement to organize and adjust. Even if you think you prepared adequately, it is likely that there will be many surprises. During this period, don’t make any critical, irreversible decisions (especially those with a financial impact). This applies to taking on new activities and volunteer work. It will be nice to be active, but you may regret taking on long-term responsibilities.
  • Both spouses should be equally informed about all financial facts and estate plans. This information should be incredibly comprehensive. In the past, many disasters have happened (especially to wives) because it was presumed that everything was taken care of…and it wasn’t. Sometimes just having knowledge can prevent big problems. Not acknowledging problems will not make them go away, it will only make them worse.
  • Everyone has learned to live with just a small portion of your time, attention, knowledge, and wit. Just because you retire and now desire to give them a bigger portion doesn’t mean they will value it or even want it. This is especially true with your spouse. Many a divorce has been threatened because a newly retired spouse is now spending too much time at the house and is now a pest. Most of us disastrously try to transfer our workplace habits to the house. One preparation is having lots of dialogue with the spouse about how you can both agree on your involvement (or non-involvement) in household responsibilities and family responsibilities. Another important preparation is making sure you will have a valuable use for your time after retirement. There are many, many people who will value your time and effort if you will give them a chance. (see lesson on Volunteering)
  • Prepare to feel old. Most of us feel like teenagers on the inside, but look like our parents on the outside. Someday, when you least expect it, something will happen to make you realize that you are older than you feel. That day causes a severe reaction in many of us. By expecting this event, you have a better chance of the severe reaction resulting in positive actions instead of negative actions.
  • As a corollary to the above, prepare for age discrimination. Whether it is trying to gain employment or just get respect from strangers, many people treat older people with great caution or indifference. This will continue to happen no matter how many laws are passed.
  • Take control of your medical care. Make sure of your medical insurance coverage, and make changes and additions where necessary. Unfortunately, many seniors find it very difficult to obtain reasonable health care insurance as they approach retirement. Keeping good health is very important.
  • Avoid fraud. This sounds obvious, but many of us will be victims of fraud when we can least afford it. Fraud comes in many disguises, but often is tied to your greed or gullibility. Sometimes the perpetrator of fraud is ignorant themselves, but there is harm to you nonetheless. Use your trusted friends, advisors, and family before committing to any financial obligation that is out of the ordinary for you.
  • Know that new hobbies or businesses can consume a tremendous amount of your cash and time. They often require obligations that seem small now, but can be explosive in the future. Avoid business ventures which: you don’t control, are general partnerships, or have potential liabilities to you personally (i.e. letters of credit, signature on a mortgage or note, etc.)
  • Most people find that their expenditures do not decrease as much as anticipated after retirement. Use retirement as a good reason to stop expenditures. Included in this may be allowances to children, payments on a child’s car, dues to clubs you no longer use, and payments on cell phones. Many of the expenditures that you made for “business purposes” have become luxuries and should be eliminated or reduced. In this category are expensive homes, cars, and country clubs. Besides reducing the financial pressure, eliminating certain expenditures can simplify your life and make it much more pleasant.
  • Be prepared to find friends a different way. Most of us have a large base of friends because of our work. Once we are gone from the workplace, it will become increasingly hard to keep these friends, and more difficult to make new friends. Hopefully, from your new activities you will find new friends, and not just with those people that are “old”! This can be a special issue for those who retire at a young age. Most of their friends will still be working and not have time or money to play.
  • There are a special set of problems waiting for those two-income families when only one spouse retires. These problems may be exacerbated if the financial situation isn’t rosy. Again, lots of communication will be needed.
  • As people begin to realize they will live longer and their financial situation is perilous, they will be forced to work full or part-time long after they had planned to retire. This may have severe psychological impacts. However, it would seem that we should remain active our entire lives. Therefore, we should see retirement as a change of vocation which may entail working full or part-time.

* Virtue encourages us to have a lifelong assignment of expanding our efforts to maximize resources for the benefit of the fellow man. This assignment does not end at age 50, 60, 70, or 80.

Now that you have seen some of the traps and problems that may wait, it will be easier to take positive actions. Many of these actions are discussed in great detail in other Practicing Significance lessons.

1. Understand your purposes. Once you do, you will have an irreplaceable basis on which to have a good self-image and feel valuable. It will be much easier to set goals and make a life-plan on which you can focus. In fact, after retirement, you will have the special opportunity to focus on things that are valuable to you.

2. Once you know your new goals, your value system will change. This is one of the most important aspects of retiring significantly. In your new economy, helping a widow fix a broken window is more valuable than making a sale to a reluctant client. It will be more valuable to see a smile from someone you help than a smile from your boss.

3. If you plan well, you will once again find that time is a limitation, but you won’t be so stressed about it. It will be important to fill your calendar with activities that you value, rather with activities that others thrust on you because you let them. Remember that you have absolute control over investing your time to meet your goals. Many of us try to schedule projects that have definite beginnings and endings rather than take on open-ended responsibilities. It helps me to remember that I don’t have much time left to accomplish the things I value and enjoy the relationships in my life, so my time is more valuable now than it was when I had a career.

4. Keeping your personal financial records accurate will be more important than ever. It is likely that you will find your financial freedom from keeping costs under control. Most of us expect our expenses to fall after retirement, but it is likely they won’t fall that much unless you work at it.

5. If you have a spouse, start working on communication and compromises early. Some interesting ideas are:

a. allocate some “his” and “her” spaces in the house

b. get separate phone, fax, and/or internet lines

c. plan certain meals which will usually be eaten out

d. agree on TV time, nap time, cleaning time, etc.

e. eliminate irritations early, i.e. who answers the phone, who cooks, who takes out the trash.

f. schedule time away from each other

g. talk about the future, not the past

h. talk about ideas, not other people

i. learn how not to include a spouse without their prior consent

6. As in most of life, attitude is everything. More retirees are choosing to think of retirement in very positive ways, and are aggressively pursuing an active satisfying life of travel, study, church work, and better relationships.


Successful retirement preparation requires the willingness to learn, plan, and be optimistic. Successful retirement is usually achieved by those who start appropriately planning years before they retire, and seldom achieved by those who wait until it happens.

The salvation of the world is in man’s suffering.William Faulkner
To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.Roberta Flack
Strength is born in the deep silence of long-suffering hearts; not amid joy.Felicia D. Hemans
Patience permits us to cling to our faith when we are tossed about by suffering as if by surf. When the undertow grasps us we will realize that we are somehow being carried forward even as we tumble. We are actually being -helped even as we cry for help.Neal A. Maxwell
Suffering is the ancient law of love; there is not quest without pain; there is no lover who is not also a martyr.Heinrich Suso

Can’t think of a “cause” to suffer for? Here are a few to pick from……

  • Abortion
  • Adequate Housing
  • Bullying and Hazing
  • Children
  • Civil and Political Rights
  • Climate change
  • Crime
  • Cultural rights
  • Democracy
  • Detention
  • Disability and Human Rights
  • Disappearances
  • Discrimination
  • Drug and Alcohol Abuse
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Executions
  • Food
  • Foster Parenting
  • Freedom of Opinion and Expression
  • Freedom of Religion and Belief
  • Gambling
  • Gender Issues
  • Globalization (Business, Trade and Investment)
  • Health Care
  • Housing
  • Homeless
  • Human Rights
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Migration
  • Minorities
  • Older persons
  • Pollution
  • Pornography
  • Poverty
  • Racism
  • Religion
  • Sex Abuse
  • Terrorism
  • Trafficking in Persons
  • Youth
  • Water and sanitation
  • Women