Recently, as part of a global summit, I was asked, “What’s your #1 tip for coping with adversity?”
This is how I answered the question.
My #1 tip for coping and overcoming adversity is provided by my favorite wisdom poem:
Watch your thoughts, your thoughts become words
Watch your words, your words become actions,
Watch your actions, your actions become…
First the thought. Think about this:
Everything is temporary in the affairs of humans, so avoid undue depression in adversity and undue elation in prosperity. Or as the favorite inspirational reminds us – this too shall pass. Let’s hear the words one more time, this time from William Shakespeare (Macbeth):
Come what may
Time and the hour runs through the darkest day.
Next, the word.
Imagine someone extremely close to you, extremely close – a sibling, wife/husband, dear friend, son/daughter – comes to you for advice because they are being battered by adversity. What advice would you give them? Think extremely carefully. Then…offer the same advice to yourself. Say it, aloud, clearly, once, twice, thrice, as many times as it takes for you to rise.
Finally, the action.
The ultimate goal when confronted by adversity is to get our feet moving again – rally ourselves to keep walking, even though we can’t see through the fog of despair and dark clouds and tears. We must lace our shoes and resume walking. All other choices are infinitely inferior. In the words of the soulful southern hymnal:
We cannot see in the future,
but walk on by faith each day.
Good luck. We can’t live through life walking on mountain tops alone. But walk we must, regardless of the adversities life chooses to throw at us.
Beautifully expressed. Real character is displayed on how a person confronts adversity (and even tragedy). The reaction , maybe action as a preemptive move will reflect how resilient your are. Do you have the guts and yes foresight to see through the fog.
Gaurav well stated with your text and poems. Found it enthralling.
Thanks Arun. It is a test of character. Our interpretation of events and our response to them. As for tragedy and adversity – on a continuum, tragedy could be conceived as extreme adversity. What’s interesting is when we look back in the rear view mirror of life, it doesn’t seem so dire – sometimes not at all. If only we could have looked then with the eyes we have now. That’s life. That’s growing up. Thanks again. Truly appreciate the exchange.
Wonderfully expressed sentiments Gaurav. There is some wisdom in Hinduism’s (and Buddhism’s) concept of non-attachment but getting to that stage can take a lifetime. Till then your sage advice ‘to get our feet moving again’ is what we need to aim for.
Thanks Karti. It’s not easy, but often the best we can do – get our feet moving again.