There is a scene in one of my favorite movies, A League of their Own, when Tom Hanks expresses his love of baseball and explains that the difficulty of playing the sport is what makes it great. As he is speaking to his teammate, he clearly knows he is making a philosophical point that extends well beyond sports and to life as a whole.

It’s unfortunately a point too many of us forget when going through challenging times. It’s also a point our culture is attempting to convince us isn’t true. It seems like today we are constantly being told pain isn’t good for us, that problems we all face should be eliminated by outside forces and the key to happiness is avoiding all difficulties.

Such an outlook on life is not only unrealistic but actually harmful to our well-being. God created the sense of pain, not as a way of punishing us, but as a way of teaching us to avoid certain harmful behaviors. There is actually a medical condition that can cause certain people to not feel pain. This ailment often leads to significant infections, undiagnosed illnesses and even premature death. It is the feeling of pain that actually helps people live healthier lives.

In the same way, difficulties and challenges we all face in life can make our lives better. Not only do they teach us to avoid certain harmful behaviors, but they also give us a sense of accomplishment and purpose when we overcome them.

Perhaps this is why more and more wealthy celebrities are following the advice of billionaire Warren Buffet and telling their children not to expect much of an inheritance from them when they die. People such as former basketball star, Shaquille O’Neal, Chef Gordon Ramsey, and actor Daniel Craig have all said they do not intend to share their fortunes with their kids.

I would argue they are doing this not out of selfishness, but actually out of love. They know that a life without struggle is often a life without meaning and purpose. They love their children so much that they are willing to experience the pain of watching their children struggle rather than do the easy thing and give their kids whatever they want to artificially provide them success. I can actually think of nothing more selfless than that.

Now I’m not a masochist who actually derives some kind of sick pleasure out of suffering, but I do think that some of the most beneficial and impactful moments of my life came during times of great anguish. Those were the times that defined my character most. My perseverance through those difficult times not only taught me how strong I actually was, but also gave me a sense of pride for what I was capable of enduring. Without these kinds of tests, we are never able to see just how much we can accomplish.

As we speak, I have been providing counseling to an individual who has experienced great financial difficulties. I am pleased to report that for the first time in a long time she feels a sense of hope that she can change her circumstances and make a better life for herself. Had someone simply given her the money she needed to fill her immediate need, she would be no better off in the future than she was at that moment. But by encouraging and helping her work through her challenges, she has the opportunity to totally change her life for the better.

I know it’s easy to just say “no pain no gain.” I also realize many of you may be facing serious challenges right now. Whether they be financial, emotional, physical or even spiritual, I am in no way minimizing them. But I truly believe these difficulties can be seen as a reason for giving up, or as a motivation to fight harder. My hope is that, like the slugger Jimmy Dugan, you will come to view these challenges as a blessing and not a curse.

(Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The advice is general in nature and not intended for specific situations)