By Trent Gow
One of my best friends, Charles, is suffering through a prolonged life-limiting illness. Just last week his oncologist struggled to inform him that yet another major surgery is needed and the prognosis is not favourable. You could well understand that Charles might be caught up in anger, self-pity and depression. But that’s not Charles.
Drawing on his life-long positive attitude Charles sought to comfort the doctor as the reluctant bearer of bad news. He smiled and said I’ve had a good life, we’re a team and will fight this setback together as best we can.
Reflecting on my friend’s realistic but positive response to adversity I decided to do a Google search to learn about any possible correlation between positive responses to adversity and health outcomes. I was not disappointed
A growing body of scientific research suggests that a balanced response to adversity fosters resilience with resulting advantages for mental health and well-being. A major multi-year national US study indicated that people with long term adverse health histories responded better in their mental heath and well-being outcomes than people with no such history.
These results suggest that in moderation whatever literally does not kill us may indeed make us stronger. For some of us that may be small solace. But for realists like Charles it’s something to build on.