Word-Of-the-Week #989: Adversity

July 20, 2023 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #989: Adversity 

Adversityan unfortunate event or incident.

How well do you deal with unfortunate events? Do challenges or disappointments make you want to give up?

This week features Christine Schoenwald’s article on Heartbreak from YourTango.com, “She Tells Her Grandma She’s Been Cheated On — And Grandma Gives Incredible Advice.”

“There are times in life when you just want to curl up in the fetal position and cry. 

You feel broken like you don’t have the strength or the desire to go on. Maybe your boyfriend or girlfriend cheated on you, or you’ve been fired from a job. Everything sucks so badly that you don’t see how things could ever get better. 

This simple story can help. It illustrates the best way to handle adversity and how we can take those challenges, disappointments, and overall bad things that happen to us, and use them to create better versions of ourselves. 

A young woman was visiting her grandmother one day and telling her how difficult her life was. She had discovered that her husband had cheated on her. 

“Gran, I give up. I’m just not strong enough to fight anymore. Everything seems to be going wrong and when one problem is resolved, another one ten times worse happens. I swear I’m done.” 

Her grandmother looked at her, dried her tears, and brought her into the kitchen. There, the grandmother filled three pots with water and put them on the stove. When the pots started to boil, she placed carrots in the first pot, eggs in the second, and ground coffee beans in the third. 

The young woman and her grandmother didn’t say anything and just watched them boil. After about twenty minutes, the grandmother turned off the heat from under all the pots and brought the contents of each out, and put them in bowls. 

“Tell me what you see,” the grandmother asked. 

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the granddaughter replied thinking her grandmother’s mind wasn’t as sharp as it used to be. 

“Feel the carrots,” the grandmother told her granddaughter. “Then take an egg and break it. Lastly, take a sip of the coffee.” 

The granddaughter did as she was told and then asked, “What are you trying to tell me?” 

“You see, honey, each of these objects faced the same adversity and each reacted differently. 

The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the scalding water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile with only a thin shell protecting its liquid interior, but after sitting in boiling water, its inside had become hardened. The ground coffee beans were different than the other two — instead of being changed by the water, they had changed it.”

The granddaughter nodded her head in agreement and wished the science experiments in seventh grade had been as instructional. 

“Which one are you?” The grandmother asked her granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you react? Are you a carrot that seems strong but with pain and adversity; do you become soft and lose your strength; or are you the egg that starts out with an adaptable heart but changes with the heat? 

Do you have a fluid spirit usually, unless something bad happens like a death, a breakup, or job loss, and then you become hardened and inflexible? Do you look the same on the outside, but inside do you become bitter and tough?”

The granddaughter was listening and trying to make sense of every word her grandmother said. 

“Are you like the ground coffee beans that actually changed the hot water, the very circumstance that brought the pain? When the water gets hot it releases the wonderful coffee smell and takes on the flavor of the coffee. If you’re like the bean, when things are at their worst, instead of giving up, you get better and stronger and change the situation around you,” the grandmother explained.”

The young woman hugged her grandmother and with clarity went to go talk to her husband. As she was almost outside the door, her grandmother said, “Be the coffee, honey. Always try to be the coffee.” 

In the end, the happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best everything, and every day isn’t found with lollipops and unicorns — it’s just that happy people make the best of whatever comes their way. 

The brightest future is built on a forgotten past. It was a wise person who gave this great life advice: you can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failure and heartaches. 

Don’t let adversity knock you so low that you can’t get up again. Try to lear from it, forgive if you can, and know that trials help make you strong, sadness keeps you human and happiness helps make you sweet.” 

This week is all about adversity. Are you the carrot, the egg, or the coffee? How would it feel to be able to make the best of whatever comes your way?

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WOW Word-Of-the-Week #344: Adversity

March 8, 2011 by · Comments Off on WOW Word-Of-the-Week #344: Adversity 

Adversity – a condition marked by misfortune, calamity or distress.

When was the last time you experienced misfortune or distress in your life?  Were you able to deal with it and move on quickly? Do you believe that adversity can actually be a good thing for you?

An NYT News Service Article written by Benedict Carey titled, “MOOD IMPROVES WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH: Study suggests facing some adversity may boost a person’s resilience” states, “It is clear that with time, most people can and do psychologically recover from even devastating losses; but reactions to the same blow vary widely, and no one can reliably predict who will move on quickly and who will lapse into longer-term despair.”

“Mental toughness is something like the physical strength: It cannot develop without exercise, and it breaks down when overworked. The study showed that too many stressful events close together are not good, while having only a few allows you to learn something.”

“The lifetime resilience study suggests that the pain, the self-doubt, the disorientation and the anger that swarm the consciousness in the wake of a job loss, a foreclosure, or a divorce can have some upside, even though it’s not remotely visible at the time.”

“Perhaps the one most fundamental thing you learn in living through an experience like this is that you can come out the other end of almost anything. You say, ‘Well, it may have crushed me, but I survived.’”

This week focus on adversity. One of my most favorite lines is, “This to shall pass.” Has adversity made you more resilient? Have you survived a job loss, foreclosure, or a divorce? Have negative events in your life taught you how to cope better?

Reader Responses

“It is the rare person who has not dealt with adversity in one form or another in this life. For those who have not endured some kind of adversity, that just means they really have not lived. I think Dolly Parton put it best when she said, “You can’t have the rainbow unless you’ve had the rain.” A major part of growing and learning in life involves taking chances. Many times in life people who have been burned once or twice vow to never try again. Thus, not allowing themselves to love or grow or expand their career opportunities. Those who do take the chance of failure and adversity are the ones who eventually succeed. But, getting over adversity is a lot easier said than done. We just don’t move on easily after disappointments in life: job loss, divorce, loss of loved ones. There is a period of time people need to get over those life-changing moments. And it is different for everyone. In those moments it is very difficult to see the forest for the trees because we are in the moment of adversity, suffering in our own way. We tend to forget that we are not the only person who has gone through these things. Everyone does. It is just that the experience is different for everyone because of our personas. I’m reminded of a line in Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer.” The duo sings, “After changes upon changes we are more or less the same. After changes we are more or less the same.” So, none of us is immune to the slings and arrows of adversity. It is how we react or not, and whether we believe there is a reason for the problem or difficulty and what we will look like when we come out on the other side. It can be painful, but we need it  to grow and to live. Buzz Williams, who is the basketball coach of my alma mater, Marquette University, likes to tell his team that when the going gets tough the team’s character is revealed. How true.  Great word, Susan. Keep up the great work” – “Warrior” Joe