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LIFE'S OBSTACLES: 6 TIPS FOR TURNING ADVERSITY INTO OPPORTUNITY


If overcoming a bad moment seems impossible and you often fall back into despondency, here are 6 useful tips to get back on track and better than before.


“Adversity can be a formidable occasion”.

THOMAS MANN


When life puts us to the test, we could say that it "does it in a big way"; and this is not a euphemism, given that sometimes problems seem to arrive all at once and without discount.

For the great writer Thomas Mann, famous above all for Death in Venice, but not only, adversity is instead a prodigious opportunity to be seized, capable of making our lives better in a concrete way and to stop feeling sorry for ourselves in the future.


Basically, from his point of view, obstacles make us grow. We grow up without completely abandoning our childlike freshness, but it does give us the choice to be responsible and reasonable in the face of everyday problems. But it has to be admitted that for most people it is particularly difficult to look at their declining lives with unshakable faith or an optimistic outlook. How can one come out of the tunnel strengthened with the newly acquired ability and be ready for the next challenges?



Finding the right behavior to deal with the problem


"You cannot solve a problem with the same kind of thinking you used to create it.". Albert Einstein

The three main elements that strong people acquire after unlocking fears and ultimately overcoming various adversities are:

  • Courage.

  • Resilience.

  • Hope.

But how does one become brave, resilient and hopeful?

First of all, the best attitude after a first legitimate emotional breakdown in which crying can be a precious help in this first phase, is to try to frame the situation, asking oneself a simple but direct question, namely: if it didn't work like that, what is the road I could take now?


Starting a real strategic internal dialogue with oneself is already a first way of dealing with the problem in a lucid way; in fact, by trying to understand what alternatives can be presented in our problem solving plan, the lucid dialogue first of all brings us back with our feet on the ground, instead of continuing to fall in. The turning point is then found in the intention to solve, while the action takes the form of the right attitude towards the problem to be addressed, which will make us become new and better people.



Albert Einstein also suggested this concept, saying that: "You cannot solve a problem with the same kind of thinking you used to create it." Therefore, the intention and the different position of observation are the two starting points to respond to the problem "strategically", as also underlined by another genius, but little known Claude Shannon, (of which I suggest a closer examination) who with the publication in 1948 of his book "A Mathematical theory of Communication", he influenced in fact the computer science, physics and engineering, formulating a very precise methodology on the definition and resolution of a problem, placing in fact two important steps, one consequent to the other and that is:

  • understanding the heart of the problem, excluding all the more or less important details and focusing one's attention on the very core of the problem;

  • applying creative thinking, eliminating the logical thinking that avoids the premises in order to draw the conclusion but instead choosing the holistic path of reformulating the problem and analyzing it in a more multifaceted way, seen from different angles.

Ultimately to Shannon's brilliant thinking, there is a third important aspect that joins the other two and that is having many options is better than having only one. In this way, following Shannon's logic, it is possible to choose the best solution for a given circumstance. Therefore, the values of optimism, resilience and courage that people achieve after resolving adversity could be translated as listening, acceptance and determination.




Learning to look ahead


As we have seen, if courage, resilience and hope can be achieved by putting in place a real 'strategic plan' of attacking the problem and defining its resolution using willpower, mental clarity and creativity, we ask ourselves at this point:

  • What is the characteristic that drives towards achieving the best possible result?

Learning to move forward is at the heart of the work a courageous, resilient and optimistic person does to achieve his or her goals beyond the adversity of the moment. Moving forward is a basic choice, which is also in our human being and which represents life itself, through the breath that guides it. And it is precisely the breath that helps us to focus our attention on results and to lighten the burden that an adversity reveals with all its atrocity.

An important bereavement, the loss of a love or a job, or both, are difficult facts to face, especially if we feel alone and abandoned even by our closest friends.

  • What should we do then? How do we deal with all this and have a broader vision that does not make us give up and gives us the impetus to keep moving forward?

We know that thinking about the problem incessantly is the most common mistake. And this is where we need to start; that is, before activating our strategic plan to overcome the problem with will and awareness, we need to distract the problem and shift our attention elsewhere, through three positive escape routes such as:

  • Meditation: meditation is known to help the spirit, mind and body. And trying out new experiences, such as meditation, above all broadens the view of things. Enrolling in a course or already trying out listening to your breath, without controlling it, is a good start to getting to know yourself better and calming unnecessary and destructive thoughts.

  • Listen to a competent person: if we feel embarrassed to talk about our problems to friends and family, we can turn to an expert. (There are also good free counselling centre operating in different cities). Venting our feelings to people who don't know us outside of the counselling office, in fact, favors some interesting aspects of ourselves including: not feeling judged and receiving suggestions about ourselves and the problem that we then grasp more effectively.

  • Pursuing our passions: taking up writing again, going to the cinema, starting with a tango course or decide to travel or having an aperitif with friends. Any creative activity that we enjoy is also good for us, even if we don't fully believe it, but that's how it is, because the body sometimes takes us to places we don't even know exist. So why not try to follow your intuition and simply let yourself go. That alone would be a great victory, wouldn't it?



What doesn't kill you, strengthens you

"What doesn't kill me makes me stronger". Friedrich Nietzsche

You may ask yourself, if adversity is so important and prodigious, why do we feel so bad and fail to overcome it so quickly, even if we follow every possible strategy to the letter? And is it so important to always see the glass as full, even if everything collapses on you? Why should you consider yourself a godsend even when misfortune comes crashing down on you in a terrifying way?

It goes without saying that these are all legitimate questions, and indeed they are necessary to understand that man/woman is a wonderful being, and also for this reason: because joy and pain are actually two sides of the same coin and should be given the same compassionate and accepting look, as much as possible. Taking up a famous phrase of the famous thinker Friedrich Nietzsche, who said that "what does not kill me, strengthens me"; and we must believe him, since the underlying idea behind adversity is precisely the possibility of revealing the best side of each of us. So, trying to take up the questions posed above, we could perhaps say that:


  • Externalizing anger and restlessness (in a first phase) can be effective in bringing out what has poisoned us; and trying to accept our dark side is already a first step in getting us out of that terrifying tunnel of 'I can't, I can't or I can't do it';

  • Everything flows with or without you, in the sense that all situations (including problems) are not infinite and although difficult to deal with, they also have a beginning and an end. And already this aspect, (perhaps a little Zen and not to be underestimated), can suggest a further impetus in the motivation to see that glass half full rather than empty, and stimulate the action of change that drives one forward;

  • Listening to oneself and not too much to the opinions of others (especially if negative) is certainly a way of not worsening the already difficult situation we are going through. In short, it is necessary to be as realistic as possible, which means above all not to approach too many of those so-called toxic people in our future situations or projects, because they will add further obstacles to the achievement of the objectives, some of which have already been established. Problems are problems, but it always depends on how WE view them. And this is exactly the time to change perspective, shift focus, and unleash creativity with new ways forward.


The real benefits that a problem can give us


In overcoming the countless adversities that life presents us with, it sometimes happens that we really want to give up and fatigue is the only real answer that stands between us and the problem. But driving through sweat and uphill (as in the picture above), can prove to be the best way to be happy and better. So let's take a look at the 6 reasons why adversity is good for the soul:


  1. "Appreciating new things": by considering situations as pure daily miracles we also see things for the first time, with new eyes and a new head;

  2. "Curiosity as joie de Vivre": in travelling, reading, studying and meeting new people, we continue to learn, grow and evolve as people, towards what we want to become. Curiosity is also a perfect medicine against loneliness, depression, in which our body and mind train in a continuous dance of joie de vivre, if we want;

  3. "Believe in yourself": we build our own destiny, if we have the right amount of confidence. We can reach very high peaks. And when that happens, then no one will be able to stop you, because you will have seen for yourself that nothing is impossible. You are your own best or worst enemy. Think about it!

  4. "Increased awareness": adversity, if faced with a lucid, willing and creative attitude, contributes to a greater understanding of oneself to calm the buzz of the mind; everything begins to appear more distant and sometimes funny or grotesque;

  5. "Every adversity hides a valuable lesson": those who have really experienced this on their own skin can confirm this theory; every complicated situation, if you like, can open us up to lessons we have not seen before to put into practice for the next one. A school of life that teaches life itself!

  6. "To become "Courageous, Resilient and Optimistic Lions": imagining what we might become is already like fulfilling it. And no one will be able to stop you afterwards, because you will have learnt a lesson, perhaps the most important one: of how lucky you were to receive such a great gift, which is worth in transforming yourself into the "better side" you wanted.


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