As many might know, I write for many online properties such as and Quillette. I usually don’t mix the content of these different venues, as they often have a different focus. For example, on this site, I write about specific clinical issues that may be of interest to my clients; on other sites, I write about broader cultural and sociological issues. However, I thought this piece, which originally appeared in Psychology Today in January would be appreciated by the audience reading this blog, especially as I reference many of the ideas regularly within my practice with my clients. Its original title was “Why Growth Most Often Occurs When We Fall Apart.” I hope you enjoy.


In many ways, our current society is set up to avoid as much pain as possible. Whether it is new technology, new medical or pharmaceutical advancements, or the self-help industry, everything is set up to make our lives easier, simpler, and more uniquely tailored to our every individual need. Even the names of products such as the iPhone and iPad nod to the symbiotic merger of products and people.

But the question remains, does all of this avoidance of pain and seeking of pleasure really make us any happier or more resilient? Obviously, new technological and medical advancements have helped millions of people rise out of poverty or overcome disease, but overall our social levels of happiness haven’t risen. Indeed, studies have shown that use of social media such as Facebook is correlated with depression and unhappiness. Other studies have shown that there is some increase in levels of happiness when […]