Life’s tough. Anyone that says differently isn’t living life to its fullest. There are always going to be ups and downs in life but how we handle them builds our character. This is especially true with adversity.
Adversity is an adverse or unfavorable fortune or fate. It can cause distress, despair, and drama. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. When life throws a curve ball at you and you catch it square in the face kind of drama.
Your drama could be your sibling divulging your most embarrassing moment to someone you really like, the stress and panic before major exams, or that feeling of anguish when you have a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” complete with a crocodile. It can be difficult to handle situations like these but there is a way and you can gain much from it.
How to Deal With Adversity (What to Do When the Poop Hits the Fan)
This was some great advice for Author Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Although, I highly doubt your drama is the result of your planet being destroyed to make room for an intergalactic highway. The advice is still valid. A calm attitude will help you focus on a viable solution to your problem. Keep calm and breathe on. Really, running around with your hands in the air, screaming, “We’re all gonna die!” isn’t going to help. Shouting at everyone that you come into contact with won’t help either. It just annoys them.
Take a hard look at the problem. Today’s fortune, a quote by Ken Keyes Jr., self-help author of Handbook to Higher Consciousness, expresses this idea nicely for cookies, but let me explain. When you are in the midst of the problem, it can be difficult to make heads or tails of it. If you take a step back, like an artist with a canvas, you can see the bigger picture.
Just like the wind, many aspects of life are out of our control. Some are impossible to prepare for because you don’t see them coming until they knock you over. Even then, you may be blind to the root of the problem. Taking a step back and envisioning what is really happening around you can help. Instead of being at the mercy of the wind, envision what the wind is doing and use it to your advantage. When you go with the flow, you can fly high and free like an eagle. Author Joyce Meyer said, “The eagle has no fear of adversity. We need to be like the eagle and have a fearless spirit of a conqueror!”
In fact, when it comes to soaring like an eagle, paragliding and hang gliding pilots are encouraged to use a similar technique with the thermals they ride in. A thermal is a column of rising air created by the uneven heating of the Earth’s surface by the sun. This invisible vortex of wind can be difficult to navigate. Pilots need to build a mental picture of the thermal they are in: to visualize it. Only then can they understand what is going on all the time in relation to which part of the thermal they are in, and make the most of it. Certain parts of the thermal make you rise faster than others. Some make you descend.
Once you get the knack of soaring on the wind, it can be very liberating. Once you recognize the adversity in your life, the easier it will be to face it. Whatever gave you grief before, will be reduced to nothing more than a mere moment in the past.
Another advantage of taking a step back is it gives you a chance to put things into perspective. Is it really as bad as it seems? Some things in life are very important, your health, family, friends, etc. These are the big things to focus on. There are smaller important things like your house, your job, school, etc. that need your attention but not as much as the big things. Then there’s the rest of the stuff in life, not really important but present. We only have so much time in our life and we need to use it wisely by focusing on the important aspects that matter most. Only then can we have a happier life.
This video demonstrates the premise nicely:
For some additional help on dealing with adversity and living a happier life, you can take the advice of Sam Berns. This young man has Progeria, an extremely rare genetic disorder that causes a child’s body to age fast. Many children don’t live past the age of 13 but this 17-year-old gave a TED Talk on his philosophy for a happy life. He had inspirational suggestions for anyone that thinks life has dealt them a bad hand.
- Be OK with what you ultimately can’t do, because there is so much you can do.
- Surround yourself with people you want to be around.
- Keep moving forward.
- Never miss a party if you can help it.
Each one of these can improve your attitude while dealing with adversity. Ken Keyes Jr said, “Be aware that the difference between heaven and earth is not so much altitude but attitude.” A positive attitude will give you strength to deal with your problem and make you more appealing to be around.
Learn From It
The last key to dealing with your drama, or adversity, is learning from it. Adversity can teach us much about ourselves and other people. It shows us our honesty, integrity, sense of personal responsibility, and how we deal with life’s turbulence. Try to examine what went wrong and how you handled it. The next time a similar situation occurs, you will be better prepared. The knowledge you gain from your struggle will make you more resilient in the future. Adversity is probably the best university you could attend. The courses are structured just for you and you won’t have to take out a student loan.
Adversity is inevitable but doable. Don’t “save our drama for your mama.” Instead calmly examine the problem and face it head on, knowing that you will gain insight and become resilient to life’s stormy weather.