Jul 05

Adversity as a “Gift”: And Two Other Books

Regardless of how much money you have, your race, where you live, what religion you follow, you are going through something. Or you already have or you will. As momma always said, ‘Everybody’s got something.’ Robin Roberts, Everybody’s Got Something, regarding adversity

Several other books in addition to the above describe ways to overcome adversity.

I. The Gift of Adversity: The Unexpected Benefits of Life’s Difficulties, Setbacks, and Imperfections by Norman E. Rosenthal (2013)

Like anyone else, this author, a psychiatrist, has not been immune to adversity. But he’s dealt with it. He quotes an old Eastern proverb: “The fox has many tricks, but the porcupine has one big trick.”

Interestingly, it’s helpful to have to face hardship in life, states Rosenthal. Not tons of it, just some. Some is more likely than none to help us develop needed resilience, which in turn serves as a foundation for more optimal mental health.

II. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (2017)   

“We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build,” states the publisher. “…Two weeks after losing her husband, Sheryl was preparing for a particular parental activity. ‘I want Dave,’ she cried. Her friend replied, ‘Option A is not available,’ and then promised to help her make the most of Option B.”

A pertinent quote: “Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. It comes from gratitude for what’s good in our lives and from leaning in to the suck. It comes from analyzing how we process grief and from simply accepting that grief. Sometimes we have less control than we think. Other times we have more. I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again.”

III. The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Trauma and Adversity by Nadine Burke Harris, MD (2018)

Kirkus Reviews: ““Twenty years of medical research has shown that childhood adversity literally gets under our skin, changing people in ways that can endure in their bodies for decades.’ Indeed, adversity ‘can dramatically increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes—even Alzheimer’s’.”

How can we heal? “Sleep, mental health, healthy relationships, exercise, nutrition, and mindfulness—we saw in our patients that these six things were critical for healing. As important, the literature provided evidence of why these things were effective. Fundamentally, they all targeted the underlying biological mechanism—a dysregulated stress-response system and the neurologic, endocrine, and immune disruptions that ensued.”