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My Role Model For Coping With Adversity



There are some people who have received a disproportionate share of bad things that happen to them, more than the expected amount of events that would come to one in life.  This is in spite of what they do or don’t do.  They cause nothing to bring it on, and there is no way to understand it.  It is clearly not fair!  But then, nobody ever promised that life would be fair.  I personally know of a woman in this situation, a most dear friend of mine.  It is heartbreaking to me and those who love her.   The irony is that my friend has honestly played by all the rules, takes good care of herself, does not drink or smoke, eats healthy meals, keeps physically active and a healthy weight.  She has also devoted her life to her beloved family and to helping others stay healthy as a practicing physician.  And yet the conveyor belt of medical misadventures continues with her, this last one being the most grim.

You’d think that a person in her situation would be down and depressed, with a sour mood and loss of interest in life and family and all things around her.  WELL – this is absolutely not the case!  She is my role model for how to cope with adversity.  No matter the negative life event, she has always maintained a cheerful disposition when interacting with others, even though deep down inside the reality of her situation is sobering.  She has somehow managed to keep things in perspective as she travels along the long road from one serious medical problem to the next.  And she does it with a hopefulness that escapes most of us.

They say that attitude is everything, and it is certainly true of my dear friend.   She has the most positive yet realistic attitude I have ever seen, without being sickly-sweet about it.  I thank her for the many times she shared that with me, helped me out of my deep hole of depression, always there to listen and encourage me despite her own issues.  Faced with serious medical problems that would devastate someone else, she takes them in stride as temporary inconveniences, all along planning our next outing to Fenway Park or Golf School.  Never one to think of herself first, I often find her not feeling very well but out and about driving the “older, sicker” ladies to bridge or manning the Garden Club table at its annual plant sale.  Always asking about other people and downplaying her own problems.

I write this because we would all do well to learn from a person like my dear friend, from her example.  We would greatly benefit by absorbing her skills on how to deal with the difficult times of our lives, of which she has had far too many.  She carries them with a grace and composure that exceeds our imagination, and which we would do well to emulate.  I am only sorry that she has had to bear this burden.

This article first appeared in my column View From the Mist on Psychology Today at

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