COMMENTARY 781.4: Making the Best from Adversity

No one wants pain, troubles or hardship, but it’s absolutely inevitable that we all will have plenty of each. And they won’t always come in forms we prefer, doses we think are manageable or at times of our choosing. Adversity is never welcome, but it is not necessarily our enemy.

Still, the lesson we must teach our children is that their character and the quality of their lives will be shaped by how they deal with adversities – from everyday dislikes, difficulties and disappointments to deaths and personal disasters.

Shakespeare said, “Sweet are the uses of adversity / Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, / Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.” Adversity’s precious jewel is cut by the chisels of confidence and competence, forged in a process of confronting and overcoming difficulties.

The path to achievement and fulfillment often passes through the aggravations and hazards of life’s thorny underbrush. Once we learn that adversities are simply obstacles, not prisons, we can develop the courage, patience, perseverance and the will to solve problems we cannot avoid and bear pains we cannot relieve.

As the blade is sharpened by friction with a harder stone, so to character is strengthened through struggle and striving. Nietzsche put it another way, “What doesn’t destroy me makes me stronger.”

This poem by an unknown author reminds us that what we need is not always what we want:

I asked for Strength / And God gave me Difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for Wisdom / And God gave me Problems to solve.
I asked for Prosperity / And God gave me Brain and Brawn to work.
I asked for Courage / And God gave me Danger to overcome.
I asked for Love / And God gave me Troubled People to help.
I asked for Favor / And God gave me Opportunities.
I got nothing I wanted.
But I received everything I needed

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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