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Eight Ideas about Adversity

Original Spanish version published in El Comercio newspaper (Peru) on January 1, 2017

  1. Adversity has visited us all at one point or another. It may have been the loss of our own or a family member’s health, the death of someone close, the loss of a job or a friend, a betrayal, a failed business, a natural disaster, a theft, an accident, or bad political news, and often it came as a surprise.
  2. I have seen the people I most admire face adversity several times, and it is always impressive to see how they face it with courage and character, without complaining or claiming to be victimized. They have taught me that adversity is always relative. That it is a matter of perspective and attitude, and that it is always good to be grateful for the luck you have (since things could have been worse). What’s more, I’m always impressed by the fact that it is the people who have lived through situations that I think would have broken their spirt that seem to be those who live in the most peace and harmony with their destinies.
  3. The experience helps us to better handle the next adversity. We learn to recognize the phases we go through, so that we can manage the loss, pain, or fear a little better. We develop resources that make us more resilient –we learn how to decide to move on and not give up. We learn to create action and contingency plans so that we can face adversity with more maturity and recover more quickly.
  4. The impact that adversity may have on our lives depends on how we face it. I love the quote by Aldous Huxley: “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”[1] Adversity can be an opportunity for personal growth and learning, even if it takes time to recognize and accept that. Be it as it may, it definitely makes us stronger, develops our character, and gives us depth.
  5. It is of great help to share adversity with smart, positive people. They not only accompany us and distract us from the pain or distress, but they also offer something of tremendous value: they give us another perspective on the event or situation we are experiencing. They help us to look at adversity from a different, more positive, and creative vantage point. They offer solutions –ideas that would never have occurred to us–, and many times, they become lights at the end of the tunnel. They pull us out of the pit of despair!
  6. Adversity helps us to better see ourselves in life and to establish our priorities and loyalties more clearly. It makes us ask ourselves important questions: What do I really want to do? Where am I going? Why is this affecting me so much? Where should I be at any given moment? How can I help or support that person going through something as bad or worse?
  7. Adversity helps us to get to know ourselves better and in greater depth. It helps to inspire us and show us who we really are, connecting us to our inner strength. It helps many people to discover a better image of themselves that makes them sure of themselves for the first time or once again. For many people, adversity is the trigger that gets them started by showing them what they are truly capable of doing; it makes them leaders.
  8. Adversity tends to show us the path to regaining our faith, especially when we had forgotten it or lost our trust in it. And that is always priceless!

[1] Aldous Huxley, Texts and Pretexts, introduction (1932), p. 5

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