Finding Benefit in Life’s Adversities
Unlike in a utopia, a mystical paradise on Earth, joy is not confined to a particular place, nor is it the result of any specific life circumstance. It is a by-product of physical, emotional, social, cognitive and spiritual wellbeing that we can experience anywhere at any time. It is not something we wait to find. Instead, we cultivate it like many other things in this world.
When we experience a loss of freedom, we do not sit back and wait. We fight for freedom. When the mailbox keeps filling with bills, we don’t wait for someone else to pay them for us. We increase our income or decrease our spending. When faced with a pandemic, we do not hold social gatherings. We accept the responsibility of practicing social distancing. We are the masters of our own joy, and we experience it by being proactive.
We make sense of adversity by finding the benefit. We choose to look for the silver lining in the dark cloud. In doing so, we increase our appreciation of what life has to offer, heighten our compassion and ascend our heart to the highest level. We have the gift of perspective, and perspective is about choice! It all comes down to what is our perspective. Do we define adverse circumstances as crises or opportunities?
Is the Sky Really Falling?
When adversity strikes, all humans tend to feel as if there is no tomorrow. The key is to recognize it is not what is happening, but how we choose to respond to what is happening. We must get a healthier perspective. To achieve that, it may help to:
- Think of how we have handle similar circumstances in life
- Recall what others have done in this situation
- Let go of the small stuff
- Ask the right questions
- Make the necessary adjustments to priorities
- Adopt an optimistic, fighting spirit
Adversity leaves us changed in some way. So when it rears its ugly head, the first questions to ask are:
- What is the opportunity and why have I been given it?
- Am I up for the challenge?
- What can I do now that we couldn’t do before?
Am I Up for the Challenge?
Hardiness is a complex trait that is comprised of three essential elements. No one element is more important than the other. Hardiness rests on control, commitment and challenge. Individuals that are stress hardy take control over things they can take control over. They do not depend on luck or the actions of others. They accept the responsibility and ownership, and act. They are committed to the things and people that matter most to them. It’s not I’m committed when, but rather I am committed no matter what happens. They view life as a series of challenges to be solved rather than obsessing over “one damn thing after another.”
It is important to remember that “People do not do things to you, they do things for themselves. ” And, “I am not responsible for how others behave. I am only responsible for how I respond to how they behave.” We can choose to adjust our thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Will you?
Owner, The Fitzgerald Institute Of Lifelong Learning.