Turning Adversity into an Ally
“Problems are life’s gifts–without them we wouldn’t grow”
– Anthony Robbins
There is a very powerful and strange secret in the universe that few understand and even fewer take advantage of. Some will think what I’m about to write is controversial. It may be. The world is not and will never be without some controversy. When it comes to powers that exist in the universe, controversy will always accompany the science. Indeed, the universe is full of untold, unrevealed secrets waiting for man to uncover them. In some cases we already have uncovered some of the secrets and are able to apply them in our own lives. Specifically, I’m referring to the ability for humans to take adversity, defeat and failure and turn them into a seed of an equivalent or greater benefit. I came across this strange power from Napoleon Hill in his 16 Laws of Success. He argued that to be really great and successful, you must profit from problems. It’s an understatement to say problems exist for everyone. The only people without any problems live in a cemetery. But the truth is that humans need problems in order to grow. You see, some people need to be cut down by failure and defeat before they realize they have the ability to use their minds and turn their problems into assets that can take them to a higher level of success than they ever dreamed of. The problem is, of course, nobody wants to have bad things happen to them and when they do happen, it’s very difficult to keep a positive and open mind. But you can, in fact, profit from adversity.
A quick look through history shows us a great many people who have turned adversity, even disaster and tragedy, and transmuted it into something that helped others. Stephen Hawking gave us a theory of how the universe works and even has suggested that alternate worlds may exist. Perhaps he was a genius before the onset of ALS, but perhaps the disease allowed (forced) Hawking to harness his mind to a degree that he might not have been able to otherwise. Would he be better off physically without the horrible disease? No doubt. Hawking himself might suggest there is an alternate reality in which he doesn’t have ALS and is a professional athlete. If so, the world would be without his gifts of scientific theory. Franklin Roosevelt is another example of someone stricken with a terrible disease and was able to keep a positive mind and succeed in capturing the presidency. I would argue he was a bad president, but I’ll save that for another article. The point is that people, if they keep a positive attitude, can learn from and even profit from defeat.
At the age of 19, I was diagnosed with a debilitating, progressive spine disorder that should have caused me to be reliant on immunosuppressive drugs and painkillers. The disease causes me immense pain everyday. It limits certain things I can do physically. It causes severe bouts of depression on occasion. When the diagnosis was confirmed, I made it part of my identity and I became severely depressed. But I was lucky enough to be around loving people who wouldn’t let me stay in that place. They didn’t indulge me in my self-loathing. So I decided to turn my life into one that is dedicated to helping others overcome adversity. I used my disease as inspiration to win three bodybuilding competitions, start a chain of health clubs that helps thousands transform their lives in a positive way and write articles that can reach people all over the globe. Do I still have the disease? Yes. Does it affect me daily? Yes. Do I let my problems determine where I go in life? No. I use them as an opportunity to learn and improve.
The loss of a loved one is probably the most painful experience in life. My biggest fear is to lose someone I love and care about. I think that’s true for most people. However, there are countless others that, despite the pain of loss, have decided to dedicate the memory of those who are gone to helping others in a positive way. Some even use tragic stories of loss of their loved ones to influence others to get over addiction, anger, abuse, teenage pregnancy and various other uses of turning tragedy into something positive. My beautiful, loving wife, the mother of my two children, lost her father to stomach cancer while she was pregnant with our first child. It was a terrible tragedy, especially witnessing the effects of chemotherapy on an adult man. Despite the loss of her father, she decided to turn her grief into a series of children’s books. I will add that the loss of my father-in-law reminds me daily that life is short and I need to be a great father for my children and spend as much time with them as possible. I want their memory of me when I pass to be an incredible one. And perhaps they will use the story of my life will be used to help others.
Nothing is ever so bad or so unpleasant that we cannot turn it into a seed of an equivalent benefit, if we keep a positive mental attitude during the struggle. Does that mean we should invite problems into our lives? No. But we should expect them when they come and not allow ourselves to be beaten down by them when we have the power to transform them into good. However, turning tragedy into something positive can only happen if the belief that it can happen exists and we keep a positive mental attitude when facing adversity. For many, religion helps them stay positive and inspires them to help others. The worlds largest religion is Christianity. There are 2.2 billion followers of the religion in the world. It’s worth noting that the popularity of Christianity is solely because Christ and his followers believed in turning defeat into success. In fact, Christianity spread like a wildfire across the Roman Empire because, according to the story, Christ used his own death and resurrection as a testament to God’s love for mankind. His disciples followed suit, allowing themselves to be burned and crucified before renouncing their beliefs. Their deaths only added to the popularity of the religion. Soon the Roman Empire itself would become a Christian empire.
One doesn’t need to follow a religion to believe that in any problem, there exists the seed of an equivalent benefit. Out of infection comes antiseptics. Out of tyranny comes the desire for freedom. Out of dangerous and deadly voyages comes the discovery of new worlds. Out of recession comes expansion. Out of death comes a new appreciation for mortality and life itself. Indeed, it takes a certain mindset to see the benefit in problems, but they do exist. Regardless of whether you believe this universal power exists or not, the fact remains that others have tapped into this “secret” and profited from it. Problems are life’s gifts. They truly allow us to grow, but only if we tap into our ability to turn them into a benefit and not allow them to defeat us permanently.