At an interview, I was once asked how I have responded to adversity in my life. My honest response to this question was that I had not yet faced a situation I would call an adversity.
However, I am aware that this is the calm before the storm. Everybody’s life has crises – they tend to show up sooner or later. And the sooner we have learnt to deal with them, the better prepared we are when they rear their heads.
Like a fire-drill, you need to prepare for a crisis before it happens. But how do you learn to cope with crises when you haven’t had any in your own life?
The solution is to create our own adversity – to take up worthy challenges where we are quite likely to fail. These challenges work like vaccines. They put us in difficult situations without ruining us so that we are inoculated against the bigger crises that would show up later.
The stoics were well versed at manufacturing adversity. They often visualized their own life’s worst-case scenarios and observed how they dealt with them. They put themselves through periods of poverty, hunger and hardship to prepare for these eventualities.
It is pleasant to live a comfortable life. It is gratifying to overcome discomfort.