What is Adversity?

by Paul Sherman

This morning I was a in meeting and the topic was adversity. We were invited to think about what this word means to us and how it has shaped who we are.

Let me start with a big disclaimer that what I'm about to say is true for me. Many reading this surely hold alternative perspectives (as did the people I was with this morning). The reason I choose to share this topic with you is that I found it an amazing gift for Reaching In. In other words, merely sitting with this question at 7am this morning has provided me a sense of empowerment and resilience that I hope to hold onto for the rest of the day (and beyond).

When thinking about adversity the place that I immediately went to is that adversity is in the eye of the beholder. For me there is "real adversity" and "manufactured adversity." Examples of "real adversity" for me include: illness, catastrophic weather, violence, car/airplane/train crashes, fire, famine, and poverty. The common theme? In essence these are things over which we have little or no control and have substantial irreversible negative consequences.

And, what about "manufactured adversity?" Here, I thought about my "first world problems" that have the potential to hijack my well-being: the malfunctioning flue on the fireplace that has infiltrated our home with a horrible chemical smell, the party guest that spilled red wine on the beige rug, the crashed computer, the client prospect who keeps blowing me off. Are these situations pains in the neck with negative consequences? Yes. Are they adversity? Only if I think of them in that way.

So, what does "adversity" mean to you? I invite you today to ask yourself that question. Whatever your response, my hope is that the perspective you gain creates the same feeling of well-being and gratitude it has brought to me.

View All Blog Posts

comments powered by Disqus