Adversity: A Teacher That Only a Few Listen To

· September 14, 2018

There are philosophies that preach messages against adversity and tell us that we must avoid it at all costs. They also point out that a happy life is a life without difficulties and obstacles. In addition, they promote the idea that difficulties cause discomfort.

Whether we like it or not, adversity is a part of life. Suffering exists and denying it won’t make it go away. In fact, difficulties give meaning to our existence.

“Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.”

-William Arthur Ward-

Let’s suppose that there’s a person who’s never dealt with adversity. This person has only experienced happy moments. They’ve never come across a roadblock and have always gotten what they wanted. What’s the consequence of a life like that one? The result would probably be a selfish person who lacks sensitivity. It’s also very unlikely for that person to value what they have and set long-term goals.

Just as adversity brings bitter and difficult moments, it also brings great lessons. Those who know how to learn from them are generally the ones who end up living a more significant and fulfilling life.

Positive thoughts and adversity

Philosophies about positivity became popular about three decades ago. Most of these philosophies had their origins in the United States. They produced thousands of bestsellers, seminars, conferences, and events.


A woman with a colorful umbrella under a storm.

These philosophies practically impose happiness as a way of life. They promote the idea of a blind optimism that must prevail over any circumstance. Thus, they’re basically an invitation to evade any negative aspect of situations, people, or life itself.

In this regard, it’s assumed that people should live in a perpetual state of joy and euphoria. They should live as if there were no reasons to feel sadness, irritation, or frustration.

These types of postures, especially when they’re extreme, only deceive. They’re also a source of guilt because, since this kind of nirvana is rarely ever achieved, we spend a lot of time questioning our inability to reach that happiness people talk about in books and conferences.

Adversity is an inescapable fact

None of us want to lose anything. We want to live without the bitterness that betrayal, heartbreak, or the impossibility of achieving important goals might provoke.

If death didn’t leave that wake of pain behind, or if we were able to do absolutely anything we wanted, everything would probably be easier. But why should we think that everything’s better if it’s easier?

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”

-C. S. Lewis-

It’s important to note that adversity is absolutely inevitable. The very fact that we’re all condemned to die one day already limits our entire existence.

Flowers on the road representing the positive side of adversity.

However, a great part of knowing how to live lies in our ability to face adversity. We should look it straight in the eyes, recognize it, and deal with it instead of avoiding it and pretending it’s not there. Taking action in the face of adversity is also a key factor in truly knowing how to live.

The lessons you can learn from adversity

Both Eastern and Western philosophies talk about failure, frustration, and adversity. They insist that the key to everything isn’t the fact that painful events happen, but how we deal with them.

We suffer a lot more when we don’t accept adversity than when we face it. Admitting to ourselves that we’ve reached a limit and that something we want is impossible doesn’t mean that we won’t be able to access everything else that’s good in life.

Man looking at his own reflection.

We get to know ourselves better when we face adversity. We understand life and other people so much more when we’ve suffered. Bad times can help us become stronger only if we choose to be humble and learn from them. Adversities renew us and invite us to change for the better. Likewise, they encourage us to give more meaning to the happy moments we get to experience.

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength”

-Mahatma Ghandi-