The Gift of Adversity

“If the road is easy, you're likely going the wrong way.” ― Terry Goodkind

If you know struggle, you know adversity.  If you know loss, you know adversity.  If you know setbacks, you know adversity.  If terrible things have happened to you, you know adversity.

But do you know what to do with adversity?

You can turn adversity into a gift.  It's not easy though.  In fact, if it was easy, it probably wouldn't be called adversity.

I wrote a book review on The Gift of Adversity: The Unexpected Benefits of Life’s Difficulties, Setbacks, and Imperfections, by Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D.  Dr. Rosenthal is the same guy who first described winter depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and he pioneered the use of light therapy for its treatment.

It's a hard-core book with some grim stories, and some lighter tales, all about dealing with adversity.  Dr. Rosenthal is a powerful storyteller and he does a great job of sharing his insights and actionable things you can do to embrace adversity. 

In fact, according to Dr. Rosenthal, embracing adversity is how we can live more authentic and meaningful lives.

Dr. Rosenthal divides adversity into 3 flavors:  

  1. The bad things that happen to us
  2. The adversity we bring about ourselves
  3. The adversity that we seek out

This works well because the book is written memoire style and Dr. Rosenthal draws from family, friends, and colleagues, as well as his own experiences, to share memories, personal anecdotes, and vignettes about the multiple categories of adversity.

Be the Architect of Your Own Destiny

Here is one of my favorite nuggets from the book ...

“Many people enter psychotherapy for problems they see as the result of repeated bad luck or the misbehavior of others.  Such chronic failure to take responsibility leaves people like victims of fate rather than architects of their own destiny, which is not an empowering state of mind.  Why do they think this way?  Because it is painful to admit errors and shortcomings.    It is generally far more painful, however, to suffer the consequences as they play out over time.  That’s what happens to people who habitually fail to take responsibility for their actions.”

The key take away is -- don’t be a victim and don’t play the blame game.  Rise above your circumstances and design a new story forward.

I share several more nuggets in my book review.

If you want to turn adversity into an advantage in work and life, check it out.

Comments (2)

  1. Dragan Radovac says:

    Sitting in the darkness of Adversity you are surrounded by every possibility of your future. By shining the light on Respect, Unity, Forgiveness, Love, Loyalty and the Truth you can then walk the path to Happiness.

    Great review J.D Meier

  2. J.D. Meier says:

    @ Dragan — Thank you.   I find that people that love the future, find more hope, and possibility, than those that get stuck in the past, or fighting yesterday's battles.

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