Self-Transformation Series:
Issue No. 18

How to Face Adversity

Table of Contents

  1. Why Important
  2. How to Face Adversity

    I. Why Important

    Adversity comes to every one without exception. Some feel overwhelmed and give up or get discouraged easily. Others appear to be able to confront and surmount it eventually. Others still are able to make use of it to make themselves more mature and grow stronger, and become more successful in life. Knowing how to face it, therefore, is an extremely important capacity. It is a quality that can be learned.

    II. How to Face Adversity

    1. Realize that adversity is the common lot of mankind.

      People sometimes react with a feeling of hopelessness when adversity comes to their lives, and they feel that they are so unfortunate in life. Little do they realize that despite their adversity, they are still fortunate compared to a lot of other people who faced worse adversities and surmounted them, such as: Helen Keller, who grew up blind, deaf and mute, but became a world-famous author. Glenn Cunningham, who grew up crippled, but through perseverance, became a legendary Olympic athlete and world-record breaker. Stephen Hawkings, the physicist who is stricken with a disease that makes him unable to walk and talk, but despite this continued to contribute as one of the greatest living physicist in the world today.

    2. Do your best to handle the adversity, and accept the consequences.

      Approach adversity the same way we deal with major worries. Do our best under the circumstances, and after doing our best, accept whatever may be the outcome. We must make sure however that we have really done our best, and not just rationalize that we have.

    3. We must accept the result of past mistakes.

      Adversity is the result of past unwise actions, we must accept the consequences today and try to prevent recurrence in the future. In the east, this is called karma. We must look at the present and see what we can do to change the future.

    4. Keep a cheerful and positive disposition.

      A cheerful or positive disposition is one of the best qualities that can protect us from the psychological burdens of adversity. It enables us to spring back after we have fallen down. It gives us hope in the face of apparent hopelessness. All adversities will pass away ("This too shall pass away"). We must avoid being bitter but learn to take life as it is. Rebellion against your handicaps gets you nowhere. Self-pity gets you nowhere.

      One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world -- making the most of one's best.- Harry Emerson Fosdick

    5. Adversity makes us strong.

      Adversity produces strength of character, which results in greater capacity for doing more important things. Therefore, the beneficial side of adversity should be appreciated.

      "A kite flies against the wind." A person rises higher as the opposing wind becomes stronger."

      "A sailboat can go forward even when against the wind." It makes use of conflicting forces, including adverse forces, to move forward.

      Muscles are developed by putting resistance to them.

      Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties. - Charles H. Spurgeon

      I thank God for my handicaps, for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God. - Helen Keller

      Life is a school in which every sorrow, every pain, every heartbreak brings a precious lesson. - Swami Sivananda

      Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men.- Lucius Annaeus Seneca

    6. Adversity is an opportunity for growth.

      Behind every adversity is a chance for the soul to grow and mature. We must remember that in the end our aim is perfection of the inner person: the soul or the spirit.

      The capacity for maturely facing adversity is an important steppingstone to spirituality.

      A problem is an opportunity in work clothes. - Henry Kaiser Jr.

      Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things. - Henry Ward Beecher.

      Prosperity doth best discover vice; but adversity doth best discover virtue. - Sir Francis Bacon

      Trials, temptations, disappointments all these are helps instead of hindrances, if one uses them rightly. They not only test the fibre of character but strengthen it. Every conquering temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before. - James Buckham

      Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong. - Seneca

      Who hath not known ill fortune, never knew himself, or his own virtue. - Mallet

      I never met with a single instance of adversity which I have not in the end seen was for my good. I have never heard of a Christian on his deathbed complaining of his afflictions. - A. Proudfit

      Prosperity is a great teacher; adversity is a greater. Possession pampers the mind; privation trains and strengthens it. - Hazlitt

      Prosperity has this property: It puffs up narrow souls, makes them imagine themselves high and mighty, and leads them to look down upon the world with contempt; but a truly noble spirit appears greatest in distress; and then becomes more bright and conspicuous. - Plutarch

      A smooth sea never made a skilful mariner, neither do uninterrupted prosperity and success qualify for usefulness and happiness. The storms of adversity, like those of the ocean, arouse the faculties, and excite the invention, prudence, skill, and fortitude in the voyager. The martyrs of ancient times, in bracing their minds to outward calamities, acquired a loftiness of purpose and a moral heroism worth a lifetime of softness and security.- Anon

      It is good for man to suffer the adversity of this earthly life: for it brings him back to the sacred retirement of the heart, where only he finds he is an exile from his native home, and ought not to place his trust in any worldly enjoyment. - Thomas A Kempis

      It is not the so-called blessings of life, its sunshine and calm and pleasant experiences that make men, but its rugged experiences, its storms and tempests and trials. Early adversity is often a blessing in disguise. - W. Mathews

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    Copyright 1995. Permission to reprint is granted provided acknowledgment is made to:
    Peace Center
    Theosophical Society in the Philippines, 1 Iba St., Quezon City, Philippines

    "If five percent of the people work for peace, there will be peace."