Don't Allow Adversity to Grind You Down

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
2 min read

When things don’t go your way, try not to get frustrated.

After all, you never can tell whether lousy luck may not be good luck. When misfortunes strike, one must never forget that it might be saving one from something far worse. What initially appears to be an epic fail may serve you better than the best advised and well-planned decision.

Think about someone who misses a flight because their documentation isn’t in order, or they get held up in traffic. Then the plane crashes.

What at first looks like bad luck can turn out to be good luck, and vice versa.

Photo by Samuel Austin on Unsplash

A Buddhist proverb comes to mind.

A farmer has his prized horse stolen. When his neighbor comes over to sympathize about the hardship, the farmer shrugs: who knows if it is bad luck or not? The horse reappears the next day. Twelve additional wild horses accompany it. The farmer’s neighbor commends him on the blessing, but he shrugs. Soon after, the farmer’s son falls from one of the wild horses while training it. He breaks both legs. The neighbor expresses his condolences. The farmer sighs. Who can say? Soon after, the government declares war, and the army arrives in the village to enlist all young males who are not disabled. Because of his legs, the recruiters skip over the farmer’s son. The neighbor exclaims, “How fantastic.” The farmer shrugs once more. Perhaps.

Adversity and obstacles don’t build character. They reveal it.

A gem is polished with friction, a person with trials.

No grit, no pearl. You must confront chaos to birth a dancing star.

I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing than teach 10,000 stars how not to dance.

We don’t grow because of fortune or luck. We grow because we understand how the world works and what we must do.

Success can come from luck. With success comes the desire to tell oneself a story that smoothes the edges and ignores the fortunate breaks. Our story becomes mythologized and makes us feel better. We feel like we have more agency. On the other hand, a tale like this is never honest or helpful.

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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