Adversity: The Question Mark of the Ages

Monday, July 27, 2020

By: Ryan Jansen

Throughout the course of our lives, we will all inevitably be confronted with various forms of resistance, struggle, hardship, pain, and discouragement. Certain individuals will feel like they can never catch a break, while others will be knocked off their feet by sudden and unexpected devastation.

As we move through the years of our existence, obstacles will emerge along our path, challenging us and forcing us to respond to questions. Our answers to these questions however and how we choose to respond will determine what road we end up traveling along and how our lives ultimately turn out.

Currently, universal difficulty has emerged in the guise of world troubles and pandemic. Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, world uprisings and job loss seem to be the norm. Nevertheless, it is often difficulty, not ease that allows people to reach heights that they never thought were possible. Accompanied with an initiative response, it is our attitude and our perception about resistance that will propel us in the right direction.

As a long-time combat and endurance sport athlete, I have learned to understand the significance and value associated with persevering through difficulty. Throughout the course of my own personal, professional, and spiritual journey, I have been forced to face failure, struggle, defeat, and disappointment in many direct and indirect ways.

Through wrestling and jujitsu, I have learned that the ability to be able to handle and deal with massive amounts of failure is a priority on the path to progress and success. Throughout my journey as a marathon runner and triathlete, I have come to understand that if harnessed and perceived specifically, pain and hardship can be used as a motivator and a crutch. Through my own personal and professional troubles, I have learned that the perception of a negative occurrence can be turned into a force to make me use my brains and think, to advance and to become better, wiser and stronger. The acknowledgement that difficulty was created to make me vigorous has carried me forward in advancement.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “As every event makes a good man better so it makes a bad man worse.” If we dare to take a close enough glimpse at any individual who has amounted to a success in any venture as well as all at those who have embarked on a darker path, we will soon begin to realize that all of these people at some point or another were faced with failures, obstacles, disappointments, and setbacks. The deciding factor that separates these individuals from the masses was and is a choice.

The choice that we are inevitably forced to make is whether we will allow adverse conditions to make us better or make us worse. Adversity is that big question mark that life throws in the path of each and every individual, forcing us to adapt, remain, or rescind. Over time, the stagnant being cannot withstand the winds of change. Surrounded by competition and advancement, he or she will eventually be overcome. Yet, with an open mind and a continued pursuit to gain and acquire value, one can and will set forth in a formidable direction. With the will to utilize each situation as a means toward a positive outcome, one can open the doors to a brighter path and use resistance as an opportunity for growth.

What is one thing that I can do from here to make this situation better? How can I do better next time? How can I use my experience to further benefit my life and that as well of those around me? What can I do or not do now to make sure that such things do not happen again down the road or to generations that come after me? Have I developed effective goals to focus on that will lead me to where I want to be? By thinking seriously about these questions and by taking action in light of the answers, we begin to place ourselves in the category of those who make the choice for betterment and we steer away from negativity. By taking responsibility for what happens in our lives and in the world around us, we begin to understand that if we want things to change for us, then we alone need to change. By not allowing defeat or the negative whispers of our ego to overshadow our desire and will to get back up and to fight on, we sign a silent contract that guarantees personal advancement. By making the decision to use tribulation as a means to helping others, we display our understanding in the significance of service and hereafter, we find purpose.

In Norman Vincent Peale’s book, You Can If You Think You Can, the author states that in every difficult situation there is potential value. He emphasizes that we should “believe this and then begin looking for it” as “values that otherwise might escape us are ours if we think they are.” In the end, it is not what happens to us that matters so much but it’s what we do about what happens that makes the ultimate difference. By choosing to respond with the right mindset and the will to get ahead, we can use failure as fuel, and we can turn adversity into an asset.

How will we choose to answer the often-unrecognized question mark of adversity that is scribbled to us by fate? Will we choose to squeeze the positive juices out of our troubles, or will we allow them to break us? Will we seek to use the gifts of struggle once presented to us as the means to bettering ourselves and those around us, or will we give in to hardship and weakness? We owe it to ourselves to get back up and fight on; we owe it to each other to lend a helping hand. With patience, faith, and persistence, we can overcome and prevail! With a longing heart and a promising perspective, we can turn our misfortune into abundance!

Bio: Ryan is the president and founder of Hitback Evolution LLC, a company specializing in personal development, customized fitness programs and fitness for the time-restricted individual. With over 10 years of experience as a personal trainer, Ryan has successfully aided clients with various conditions and needs in achieving their goals. Ryan is also an active blog writer and author, having published two books up to this current moment. During his spare time, Ryan is devoted to charitable service as he competes in fitness competitions, endurance sports and athletic endeavors in order to raise money for The Foundation For NIBD In Kids. Contact Ryan via and visit his website at

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