No sane person ever wishes a catastrophe or personal crisis on themselves. Life is hard enough as it is, and it’s essential to latch onto the good as and when it arises, and to do whatever is in our power to avoid coming face-to-face with the bad.
Even the ancient Stoic philosophers of Greece and Rome, known for their emotional resilience, and their habit of viewing all hardships as “training exercises” to strengthen the will and character of the person being afflicted, specifically commented that seeking out misfortune was the height of stupidity.
The thing is, there’s a sound argument that can be made to suggest that people today have, by and large, gone a bit too far in the opposite direction. Many of us will do anything, no matter the cost, to try and stave off misfortune, and live in the constant terror that some personal catastrophe will befall us, or influence our circumstances, so as to make it impossible to regain our composure and balance after the fact, never mind thrive.
Contrary to what many of tend to fear, however, many things that can befall us during the course of our daily lives, that we might be inclined to think of as catastrophes, actually have hidden silver linings, and can be turned into opportunities and strengths, if approached from the right perspective.
So next time something goes wrong in your life, or one of your cherished plans falls through, pause for a moment before losing all hope, and consider whether there might be a hidden blessing to this curse.
Here are some examples of “catastrophes” that have silver linings.
Rising home prices
Home prices are rising, and to many people, this is a sign of doom and gloom par excellence. Society is falling apart and becoming more elitist, it’s becoming increasingly difficult — impossible, even — to get on the property ladder, things are going from bad to worse, and the market and everyone involved in it are so dissolute and corrupt that there’s no clear fix in sight.
Sounds like a familiar narrative, huh?
While it’s true that property prices are rising, and that this makes getting on the housing ladder all the more difficult, it is also true that this situation puts existing homeowners in the enviable position of having lots of equity to tap, and improved LTV rates.
This also means that, once you do manage to get onto the property ladder, you can expect the investment to be worth considerably more today, than it was in the recent past.
Instead of losing home in this regard, consider the fact that there is an equivalent boost in benefit, for the boost in hardship, and work to optimise the situation in your favour instead of becoming increasingly despondent.
Losing your job
The loss of a job is one of those fears that utterly dominates the nightmares of a large proportion of society. Imagine the sheer horror of not having a stable income all of a sudden, and having to negotiate the endless mire of the job market, complete with various hoops to jump through, including job interviews, CV touch-ups, and all the rest.
While the loss of a job obviously can be a major concern, particularly if you are already in dire financial straits, don’t have enough money saved up to cushion yourself, and have children or other dependents counting on you — in many instances, it is something that you can bounce back from — and bounce back from as a stronger version of yourself than you were previously.
Losing your job can grant you the freedom to pursue different avenues of life that you were previously putting off, whether that means retraining and applying for jobs in a completely different industry, or finally being forced to confront the fact that you were frequently mistreated in your old position, but put up with it out of sheer habit and little else.
Losing your job can give you the kick you needed to finally commit to becoming a writer, or seeking out a telecommute role that allows you to travel like you’ve always dreamed, or any number of other things.
The key is that you use the loss of your job as an opportunity to springboard onto the next big thing, rather than allowing yourself to be dominated by fear and melancholy.
A failed business venture
The overwhelming majority of startup businesses fail, and many of those entrepreneurial sorts are completely crushed by those failures. The fact that the venture didn’t work out seems to be confirmation of all your worst fears that you were just faking it, and that you simply don’t have what it takes to compete at a high level.
What these pessimistic businesspeople are missing, however, is that many of history’s most successful entrepreneurs lived lives that were replete with failed business ventures. Richard Branson has had more than a dozen failed businesses, and Thomas Edison famously quipped “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
The secret is that successful entrepreneurs don’t give up when they fail — nor do they never fail — instead, they learn from their failures, incorporate those lessons, and begin again, with the benefit of experience and insight that they did not previously have.
So, if your business venture fails, don’t be crushed. Be motivated, and remember that you’re in good company.
Dropping out of school
Dropping out of school, or getting far worse marks than you had hoped for, can seem like a sure sign that you’re stupid, dissolute, lazy, and wasteful. None of those sentiments seem to presage a great future in store.
But it might just as easily be the case that dropping out school was due, at least in part, to other factors. Maybe you were too dynamic for the set routine presented to you. Maybe you were more drawn to people than diagrams. Maybe you were studying a subject that you didn’t believe in, for someone else’s sake. Did you really want to be a doctor?
Dropping out of school — as many self-made men and women did — can give you the freedom to pursue a life path more true to your own calling, and it can also motivate you to resolve personality flaws such as procrastination.
Furthermore, it can be the impetus that drives you towards lifelong self-study and an entrepreneurial orientation in life.
Having your routine go off the rails
Most people will experience moments in their lives when their previously functional and comfortable routine just falls apart like dust in their hands. Suddenly, they start missing the gym, and skipping their daily meditation sessions, and waking up at irregular hours.
Before too long, chaos seems to reign, along with despondency at the thought that there must be something fundamentally wrong with you for not being able to stick to your plans and rituals.
But these kinds of upheavals are often a good indicator that you’ve fallen out of balance in some area of your life. Where once you were able to juggle these numerous obligations at once, something has now changed and those changes need to be addressed.
It could be that your previous routine was too strenuous and you’ve hit the inevitable point of burnout. It could also be that your routine has lost its previous applicability. Maybe you no longer gain benefit from what you were doing?
Instead of beating yourself up when this happens, take a deep breath, strip things down, and go back to the drawing board. Rebuild a new routine that you can stick with, one item at a time.