Adversity: The Source of Contentment

I have a good life. An amazing life. A wonderful husband, a son who has grown into a fine young man, friends, health, a nice house, a home gym. I’ve got it all. I even took the entire summer off work.  Not many people find themselves in my position. I am one of the luckiest people in the world. But for most of the summer if you had told me that, I would have said, “Yeah, but so what?”

A fundamental element was missing from my life: adversity. Not that it was all fun and games this summer – we lost 17 full grown trees from our yard, my son totaled my car, my dad ended up (briefly) in the hospital, and we had unexpected house guests for two weeks. But those were simply events that are normal parts of life. What was missing was adversity to give meaning to anything I did.

Adversity is important not for the suffering it causes but for the meaning it gives the choices made in its face. For instance, the choice made by a man to take a shower and get dressed in the morning is insignificant.  But put him deep in the throes of depression and that simple decision becomes an accomplishment. Or the college student who chooses to study for a test. Give her severe stomach cramps and her decision becomes a testament to her perseverance and commitment. The adversity doesn’t have to be earth-shattering or global.  But it must exist. Without it, the choices we make lack content and significance. Without it, nothing matters.

So I have examined those areas of my life in which adversity still exists – some are personal to me, and some pertaining to my writing career. I have a life where I could choose  to ignore those areas of adversity and go from day to day in a life of ease, but I choose not to. The decisions I make to face the adversity enrich my life, provide a sense of accomplishment and value, and I am grateful for that. So now, if you tell me I have a good life, I will simply smile and say, “Yes, I really do.”