Commentary 779.5: The Carrot, the Egg, and the Coffee Bean

Let’s face it. Painful personal trauma and tragedy — like illness or injury, death of a loved one, loss of a job or an unexpected breakup of a relationship — are unavoidable. The question is: Will these private calamities erode our capacity to be happy or cause us to become stronger and better able to live a meaningful and fulfilling life?

Consider how differently the carrot, egg and a cup of ground coffee beans are affected by the extreme adversity of being boiled. Like the carrot, adversity can soften us. We can emerge more flexible, understanding, compassionate and grateful or we can let our life spirit turn into a soft mush. Like the egg, the boiling water can make us harder; stronger, tougher and wiser or we can become more cynical, pessimistic, callous and inaccessible. And like the coffee bean, we can willingly transform our lives into something better or simply lose ourselves completely.

No, we can’t control what happens to us, but we have a lot to say about how we react and, therefore, what happens in us. The first step to turning adversity into advantage is to get out of the hot water as quickly as possible. Don’t dwell on catastrophe. Grieve but move on. Don’t define your life by misfortune.

Second, force yourself to move forward. Draw on inner strengths, the people who love you, and your faith to help you transform your life into something better. Formulate a vision of a more purposeful life filled with people and experiences that will help you become more fulfilled.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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