Could Adversity Increase a Person’s Happiness?

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Article by Wendy McCance

I have a question for you.  Do you believe that adversity actually increases your happiness?  I know this may sound odd, but bear with me.  My initial response would be to believe that an idyllic childhood followed by such things as a career you enjoy, a partner who loves you and friends and family who adore you would make for the happiest most satisfying life.  Oh yeah, lets throw in no money worries.  Obviously this describes a rare few people.  Life doesn’t tend to be that beautifully packaged up and presented.

What about people who have had major struggles in their lives?  Maybe it was divorce, job loss, money problems etc..  What if these people came out the other side with a new sense of what works and what doesn’t.  When they pick up the pieces and start again, if they learned from their experience (big part of being able to find that happiness) do you believe that they become more satisfied in the long run than the ones who had it easy.

I think it all comes down to appreciation.  When I had gotten divorced, I had gotten really painfully honest with myself.  I did the work of sorting through what had gone wrong.  I paid attention to why I was making the choices I had for a partner.  I realized that it was so important to find someone who loved to build me up and stand by my side rather than be with someone who enjoyed tearing me down and disappearing.  I know this seems obvious, but when your heart is in the middle of a relationship, your mind blurs and what seems obvious isn’t necessarily so.  My current husband is everything my first husband was not.  I got lucky in that I was able to see my mistakes and break a bad cycle.

Personally, I value so many things that I used to take for granted.  I realize how lucky I am and enjoy the simplest of things.  I think when things are handed to you easily it takes so much more for you to appreciate what is in front of you.  I think that joy is harder to come by simply because it takes something bigger to excite you.  In that sense, I do believe that working hard and having been challenged down to your core makes every positive moment in what you are trying to achieve a much bigger triumph.  What do you think?  What side of the fence would you want to be on?  If you were given a choice, would you want the easy life without the intense highs or a little adversity that ultimately rewarded you with pure pleasure?

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Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 6 local papers online, including the Oakland Press.The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]

29 thoughts on “Could Adversity Increase a Person’s Happiness?

  1. Nicely written and stimulating! My beliefs are most of what comes easy or has been handed to one with little to no work or sacrafices being made only may provide what feels like happiness but in reality is nothing more than temporary gratification.
    I have certainly been shaped and appreciation has deepened by my real life experiences. I too feel one can live a non superficial lifestyle and be equally as appreciative and as sincere and loving as the next depending on the parenting not the bank account.
    Thank you for sharing and God bless you for seeking and finding such joy in a loving relationship! May everyone find true happiness, peace and joy in their daily lives! I too spent many days existing in this world rather than living! Today I live as though today is my last day on earth but I save as though ill live forever!

  2. This is the deep question to which I think there is no single clear cut answer that applies to everyone. However, generally speaking I think it comes down to things in our earliest upbringing that shapes us most for the rest of our lives. Usually it comes from parents or those closest to us in our earliest stages of life. Later, It might be teachers, friends, other people with whom we have contact, or even TV or other entertainments. Part of us learns happiness and contentment and another part develops an instinctive sense for it that might be related to survival.

    I had a great upbringing and received much encouragement from many influences in my life. Even though I often felt sad, lonely, and uncertain, I had this inner sense of happiness and a desire to keep going and trying to win life.

    Even after two painful divorces and other times of heartbreak I always pulled myself out of the dark and decided that life was a worthwhile experience. I haven’t had a life of hardship and have been relatively blessed the way I see it. I have what I need in life and manage to get by okay. Nothing set aside for retirement and uncertainty for the future. But I have faith-not unrealistic, but based on past experience-that things will work out.

    Like it says somewhere in the Bible, “Why worry (stress) about tomorrow? Tomorrow will take care of itself.” I think those who are unhappy are often overly worried about tomorrow and discontented with today and yesterday. Happiness comes by acceptance of ones fate and rejoicing in the triumphs of others without begrudging anyone for their successes.

    Found you via LinkedIn and enjoyed this post. You may enjoy some of my blog posts as well as I often ponder such things.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out
    Also at my memoir blog:
    Wrote By Rote

  3. Love this post, only just found it so apologies for late response. Adversity “Whatever does not kill you makes you stronger” thats the old saying. I think that when you are in the middle of problems it is very easy to get wrapped up in them and some people never come out the other side. Been their a few times myself over the years. It has saddened me, angered me, frustrated me and nearly killed me but I have learned a lot. I never argue any more, never get angry, never insult, and accept people for who they are. I think that from my experience life is far too short and should be embraced and respected as not being infinate. I do have regrets but I am a better person now after the adversity. If you’d have asked me that a few years ago the answer would have been totally different.

    • hi Tim,
      I really appreciate your comment. I’m sure what you have said will help others that read this post. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had some regrets. I think without regrets you haven’t grown. It’s just a natural part of the process. Congrats to you, it sounds like your doing great!! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  4. I think it depends on the person. Majority of people who are successful have faced some sort of adversity which then allowed them to appreciate their subsequent successes. However, there are some who just seem to be not balanced and they go in the destructive direction. Also on the other sphere there are well-off people who have always been well off and enjoy that state because it’s who they are. They are comfortable in that world and do not have to fit in, therefore they do not to struggle to fit in or find normalcy. It’s a generational comfort zone. Like I said to begin with, it depends on the person. We are all different, and we all process and perceive, people, places and things differently.

  5. Interesting way to look at adversity, but of course, it’s always easier to look at one’s adversity when one has come out the other side and finds that they are stronger, more aware, more capable, etc. than they ever thought they were before. Eleanore Roosevelt said that “women are like tea bags… you don’t know how strong they are until you put them in hot water”. I agree with your post and the comments that follow that we need some challenges in our lives to be aware of the ups and downs, highs and lows, and that with support, guidance and understanding we can, learn, grow and evolve into the strong, capable, hopeful, and empowered individuals we are meant to be. Good topic of discussion…

  6. I think only special people can take life’s dissapointments and learn from them and appreciate and build successes from them. I admire those that can change themselves to avoid the same mistakes and appreciate the good that comes of it.

  7. Well, you’ve done it again. Another great post. That really was an excellent question. And my answer agrees with what you say. Adversity, when one is in the middle of it, usually increases one’s misery and worries. But come out the other end of it, as you say, it makes for more appreciation of what one has and I think in most cases makes people a lot more content with what they have instead of always wanting more and more. Adversity can also fire up ambition too.

  8. Well said, Wendy. I believe that adversity defines happiness in the same way that valleys define mountains. They are the inverse of each other. I believe that we need to fully feel both adversity and happiness because it is only together that they define our lives. I would never chose a path of moderation even if it meant deep valleys because I would also have to forsake the highest mountains.

  9. Leave you with a quote from Rev. T.D. Jakes, “The most blessed people in the world are those that have gone through something that broke them.” I have this posted around my monitor.

  10. Oh, this is really freaky! I was talking about this same subject today with some people at the office. We (hubby & I ) made a huge mistake when we gave our kids everything they ever wanted growing up. We also sheltered them from disappointments and always made sure they didn’t have to face hardships…boy, were we wrong! Fortunately, they’ve grown up to be good young adults, but I regret so much of the life’s lessons that we didn’t allow our kids to experience. I’ll be a better granny to my future grandkids!

    • That is so weird. Don’t beat yourself up over it. I think every parent can’t help but want to give their kids all they can. You love them so much and just want their childhood to be loving, fun and easy. There is enough time to deal with a million issues as an adult, so who wouldn’t want them to have a wonderful and memorable start in life.

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