We all know people who seem to walk through this world without a care, always positive and happy. They stand almost as a beacon of hope to those who seem to constantly be faced with challenges and adversities. Truth is, they may be loaded down with burdens that would cause most people to give up. Some believe that hardship in life is dealt like a deck of cards and the player with the worst hand loses. I do not believe that. In fact, I am convinced that adversity can be viewed as a blessing and could lead you to better things in life.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines adversity as “a state of hardship or affliction; misfortune. A calamitous event.” People who seem to have everything going for them in life have more than likely survived multiple calamitous events, such as the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job or a serious illness. What sets them apart is how they choose to deal with adversities that come their way. They share a common factor which is their ability to persevere. They made a commitment to face each challenge in life individually and chose to find peace, whatever the outcome.
Many famous people have faced great adversity but chose to use it to create a positive influence in the world. For example, Helen Keller who overcame her blindness and deafness and used the hardships to become stronger, promoting education and women’s rights throughout her lifetime. Winston Churchill had a severe stuttering problem but became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. He is remembered today for his powerful speeches. J.K. Rowling was born into a poor family, lived on government assistance as a single mom when she wrote the first Harry Potter novel. The series of books and movies have made her one of the most successful women in the world.
Adversity is a part of life and a lack of it can be a hindrance to success. When things go wrong with finances, or marriage or health problems arise, people tend to want answers for why things happen. Adversity is not necessarily a bad thing, it shapes you into a better person. Struggling through bad times creates character. Whether you settle for adversity or emerge from it a better person is the difference between the good and the best.
Having no troubles could mean a lack of emotional growth. Remind yourself of the goals you want to achieve. If you are not faced with challenges to get where you want to be in life, more than likely you are not progressing. Famous psychologist Henry Havelock Ellis wrote, “Pain and death are part of life. To reject them is to reject life itself.” Ellis grew to become a doctor of psychology and an author of more than 30 books on human behavior.
Learning to overcome and deal with adversity makes us who we are. Every experience in life, no matter how challenging, can strengthen our will. Working through difficulty gives us confidence and the ability to meet future challenges. The Greek philosopher Herodotus said, “Adversity has the effect of drawing out strength and qualities of a man that would have lain dormant in its absence.” I believe courage, strength and perseverance emerge from deep within when you face difficulty with a positive attitude.
In the midst of hard times it is easier to get caught up in self pity and ask why, than to smile and be determined to emerge a better person. Thinking unproductive or negative thoughts will likely hinder your ability to manage difficult situations.
Adversity can deal a crushing blow in life without resilience. How do you develop this wealth of courage and resilience needed to make you a stronger person? Resilience is built into our spirits just as a body builder builds muscle in the body. It is gradually gained as you confront challenging obstacles in life. Choosing to avoid or ignore problems only makes you vulnerable to any traumatic event in the future.
There are two ways to build the necessary resources in order to defeat adversity. Building internal resources, such as cultivating courage, emotional strength and discipline will prepare you mentally. It is much the same as a soldier prepares for battle. The other is cultivating external resources that will help ease the burdens. Rely on friends and family to help guide you through difficult times. Having someone to talk to about problems can be very comforting.
Take encouragement and inspiration from others who have faced adversity. You probably already know someone who has faced incredible difficulties and either gave up or triumphed over them. Remember that going through hard times usually makes us appreciate problem-free times. Look for learning opportunities in every situation you face.
Adversity is two-fold. Getting through it and accepting the outcome. Thinking that everything always turns out alright, while positive, is not realistic. Being triumphant over adversity includes being prepared to accept the worst outcome, if it occurs. For example, handling a serious illness requires work, but accepting that you may never be completely healthy again requires great courage. Cultivate faith, resilience and courage. These three qualities will arm you for the battles.
Voltaire, a 1700’s French philosopher, was an advocate of civil liberties such as freedom of religion, speech and separation of church and state. With more than 2,000 books and 20,000 letters supporting social reform, he wrote, “Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.” He knew that some use adversity as an excuse to become negative, unhappy and cynical. You can face your battles with courage and resilience. If we can pass quickly through the storms of life, our spirits can truly soar to great heights, no matter what the outcome.
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