I’ve had a comfortable life.
Compared to a lot of people on this planet, I’ve had an easy ride.
I’ve never woke up wondering where my next meal will come from. I’ve never wondered where I’ll have to sleep each night.
When it comes to adversity, I haven’t faced anything near as difficult as a lot of people have.
Yes, I’ve had a few scrapes here and there, but they were minuscule compared to the difficulties the least fortunate amongst us face.
However, when I have been faced with adversity, I like to feel like I have faced up to it.
I have never let it get the better of me. I have learnt from it. Accepted that life is difficult and moved on.
I have noticed recently, not everyone is like this. A lot of people struggle with adversity. It’s not unsurprising. Adversity is tough and makes us do things which are uncomfortable, feel emotions we don’t want to.
How you deal with the adversity in your life is important. For it’s from the bad times that we learn the most not the good.
“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.” — Marcus Aurelius
No matter where you live, whether you live in poverty or wealth, life is difficult. The difficulties may be polar opposites, but they are difficult nonetheless.
When you are poor, just gathering the required money to eat and clothe yourself can be tough. A rich man would never entertain such thoughts.
However, with riches comes difficulty. The richer you are, the more closed off from society you become. Your wealth becomes a burden. A chain around your neck, weighing you down wherever you go.
The two difficulties are polar opposites, but for the people in those situations, they are difficult nonetheless.
Like anything in life, adversity is relative.
I haven’t faced much adversity in my life, but the few times I have, stick out in my memory.
Strangely, they revolve around collisions with cars while I was cycling.
The first time occurred in England when I was cycling back from work. A car tried to take junction too early, didn’t see me, and I went into the side of the car.
I was fortunate to come away with a few cuts and bruises. Even more miraculously, my bike was undamaged.
This was the first time I had been hit by a car, and I was in a daze for 10 minutes until I got home. I was unaware I had been listening to music the whole time until I was in my house.
A few minutes later, the husband of the driver rang me up berating me, accusing me of causing the crash, and damaging their car. I was dumbfounded, I had no idea what to say over the phone.
It was all a blur.
The worst part was, I had to be back in work in the morning to open the shop I worked at. After being hit by a car, I would have to jump back on a bike the very next day.
The crash was a wake-up call for me. I had wanted to go to Australia for a long time, but I never had the courage to do it by myself.
The crash made me realise how fragile life is, and that it can end in an instant. If I wanted to do something, I should just go an do it. I used the adversity to motivate myself to go and do something I had longed to do.
The second time I was hit by a car was in Australia ironically. I was heading to work at 4:30 in the morning. You would have thought this would be one of the times you are least likely to be hit by a car!
To get to work, I had to cross a busy and long road at a crossing. I pressed the button, waited for the green man, and begin to cycle across. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something coming towards me.
As I turn, I see a car approaching, with no regard for the red light or myself. The majority of my bike had passed the car when the impact came, but the car caught my back tire.
I was flipped over and landed in a heap, while the car sped off into the distance without hesitation. Needless to say, I wasn’t a happy bunny.
Again, I was fortunate to come away with a few scrapes, but nothing serious. I even made it into work on time with two minutes to spare!
Although I was lucky in both situations, neither was particularly difficult. I was able to pick myself up and carry on.
However, I could have chosen to react in a different matter, but I didn’t.
Adversity is relative, but it’s how you react to it, that’s important.
Life is Difficult
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” — Marcus Aurelius
In my current job, there is one co-worker who cannot deal with any form of difficulty.
If the slightest thing goes wrong, he starts complaining instantly. The difficulty overwhelms him and he cannot deal with it.
The obstacles become too big for him, and they quickly go from mountains to molehills.
These are minor issues. We encounter trouble in work and our daily lives all the time. The majority of them are minor inconveniences.
If you react to the little things like they are big things, then you will be unable to deal with the big things when they come along.
How we react to any form of adversity defines us. We can choose to complain, moan about it, but this will not make it go away. The problem will still be there. Moaning will only make the problem worse in your mind.
The other way is to face the adversity head on and find a way to overcome it. As Marcus Aurelius states, what stands in the way becomes the way.
The adversity is not going anywhere until it is dealt with. You can either complain like my colleague and snowball the issue into something bigger than the sum of its parts, or you can accept the situation and try to deal with it as best you can.
Your reaction defines the action. You need to embrace the adversity not recoil from it.
It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times
“Adversity has the effect of drawing out strength and qualities of a man that would have lain dormant in its absence.” — Herdotus
In sports, it’s often said you learn more from your defeats than you do your victories.
The same is true in life. You learn more from the hard times than you do the good.
When times are good, we are almost running through our lives on autopilot. We can go about our business without too much difficulty.
When we are faced with adversity, this is what defines us. How you react to that adversity defines us.
You can be like my colleague and wish it away, or you can face up to it, and learn something from the process.
I have learnt more from the difficult periods of my life than I have from the good ones.
When you reflect on this it seems obvious, but we never consider it will times are good.
If you are faced with a bad situation you are going to learn from it, no matter what. You are forced to make a choice on what you will do, and how you will react to the situation.
You have two choices to how you deal with adversity. You can either view it as an obstacle, an impediment that cannot be shifted, or you can view it as an opportunity. A chance to learn and grow.
Pain is a part of life. As uncomfortable as it is, to reject it, would be to reject life itself, we have to learn to accept adversity as a part of life.
If you avoid or resist adversity, this will only make it persist.
The difficult times allow us to appreciate the good ones. We learn when we suffer, no matter how painful.