Facing Cancer or Grief? A Painful Past May Be a Powerful Advantage

April 9, 2024 ◊ By Elisa Everts ◊

Facing Cancer or Grief? A Painful Past May Be a Powerful Advantage

The Relationship Between Happiness and Adversity

When "stuff" happens, it usually feels like a setback. However, I've always liked the metaphor of "stuff" being the fertilizer for beautiful flowers. John Haidt, in The Happiness Hypothesis, writes about how adversity can actually be the path to emotional and psychological strength. Adversity is not only a test of character, he explains, but also fuels personal development. Rather than viewing hardships as obstacles, Haidt argues that they can be opportunities for personal growth and transformation.

The Role of Adversity in My Life

When I was reflecting on my peacefulness in facing stage four cancer it began to dawn on me, not to brag, but I am kind of an emotional triathlete. I mean, not by choice, but I've been training for this my whole life. I experienced the death of a brother in early childhood, the blindness of my mother, the mental illness of my father, my own deafness, various kinds of abuse and rejection, major reconstructive surgery on my ear/brain. . . oh, the list goes on. There was plenty of adversity and it fostered tremendous resilience. I don't know that I am specifically grateful for each traumatic adversity, but I am certainly grateful for the resilience that has resulted.

As far as my response to cancer is concerned, I certainly don't mean the purpose of one adversity was to prepare me for another. I think the arguments that Matilda-God caused you suffering to prepare you for more of the same or so you could empathize with other people’s suffering is more than a little circular. But the effect of all that adversity was to train and prepare me for the adversity of facing stage IV cancer, and I may as well rejoice in that.

The Role of Adversity in Your Life

Have you faced adversity in your life? Has it made you stronger? Remembering that you have already survived 100% of your worst days (and have the scars to prove it!) can help you center yourself in your own strength so you can bravely take on this seemingly impossible challenge before you. Remembering what you have already overcome and harnessing that hard won power is one way you can manage hope!

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About the author

Dr. Elisa Everts is the founder of Evertree Hope Management and is a dynamic public speaker, author and trainer. Dr Everts is passionate about helping cancer patients and bereaved people in their quest to survive and live a full life during and after cancer and grief. She has the personal experience of surviving Stage IV cancer and the loss of many loved ones. She understands the challenges inherent in these experiences and the importance of cultivating hope through the stories we tell others, and even more importantly, to ourselves.

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Elisa Everts, phd

Speaker | Author | Educator

Finding Hope in Cancer & Grief

Elisa Everts, phd

Speaker | Author | Educator

Finding Hope in Cancer & Grief

I speak to medical professionals and patients, helping them provide hope when there seems to be none. If you or your organization need someone to help process the difficult topics of cancer and grief, let's set up a complimentary call, 703-656-6691, ee@elisaeverts.com.

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