Photo by Will van Wingerden on Unsplash

Adversity And Uncertainty — The True Judges Of Character

Choices we make in the face of adverse situations and uncertain challenges reveal our true character

What happens around affects us all. The kind of environment we live in at any instant of time potentially drives our thoughts, actions as well as our choices. Everyone loves good times and everyone wants to be happy.

Quite frankly, all of us deserve happiness in our lives. But, we also need to understand (and I have emphasized this often) that happiness or any other feeling or situation is not a constant.

Nature is a flux. Situations and times constantly flow out making way for novelty and change. It is this dynamism of nature and of things that constitute our surroundings that gives life the necessary tools to test us and that too, in myriad ways. Two such tests that many of us around the globe have been (recently) forced to take are adversity and uncertainty.

With most of the economic and social activities shut down and people locked up inside their homes in many parts of the world, there has been a tremendous impact on all of us.

The future has always been uncertain but right now, it is so more than ever. And amidst all the uncertainty (political, social, and economic), time — the greatest manufacturer — has been certain to keep moving.

And as time has incessantly moved, the adverse effects of the current predicament have become apparent, globally. And in such adverse times, disturbing reports and trends from all around the world have been pouring in. Amidst all this, what we really need to ask ourselves is this — when time has made its choice to keep moving, even in, unarguably, the most uncertain and damaging occurrence of recent history, what choices do we make?

It is very easy to lose hope and it is even easier to say that we must never lose hope. But, if we understand two things — first, the knowledge that temporariness of predicaments is a source of strong will and second, the realization that when we have our back against a wall, we can only move forward.

[The above idea has a twofold manifestation. First, the idea of the temporariness of a predicament gives us power over it. And second, accepting that a (temporary) problem exists enables us to move in a direction where we can find a possible solution to it. But, if all problems are temporary, why solve them in the first place? First, to contain the potential damage and second to affirm our faith in being rational and resilient creatures who can make better any situation.]

When nothing else is under our control, only one thing is — the choices that we make. We can either choose to sit idle and hopeless or we can choose to tackle the situation at hand to the best of our capabilities. We all know the better choice between the two.

But, it takes practice to choose wisely, and gradually, this wisdom gets ingrained in our character, sharpening our intelligence. Indeed, how we react to adversity and the choices that we make in uncertainty not only truly reveal our true character but also give us a way to build character (yes, character building is a continuous process).

There is a hint of resilience in the idea of character building. A great philosopher once defined resilience as the human capacity to face, overcome, and even be strengthened by experiences of adversity. To keep bouncing back and to be able to bring the best outcomes from the worst situations is the ultimate character goal that we should all strive for.

But, despite resilience and great strength of character, it still takes a lot of courage to beat adversity. What is courage anyway and why should we be courageous?

To accept the challenge of the unknown in spite of all fears, is courage. The fears are there, but if you go on accepting the challenge again and again, slowly those fears disappear. The experience of the joy that the unknown brings, the great ecstasy that starts happening with the unknown, makes you strong enough, gives you a certain integrity, makes your intelligence sharp. For the first time you start feeling that life is not just a boredom but an adventure. Then slowly slowly fears disappear; then you are always seeking and searching for some adventure. Courage is risking the known for the unknown, the familiar for the unfamiliar some unknown destination. One never knows whether one will be able to make it or not. It is gambling, but only the gamblers know what life is.

This beautiful passage resonates with the idea of building a strong character by making tough, honest choices in the face of unknown difficulties. If we are too afraid of adversity, we will never really blossom to our fullest and we will never truly know the meaning of life. So, let go of this fear.

All of us go through personal challenges, testing times, uncertainty and adversity in our lives. And though I am not qualified enough to say that we must never lose hope (because, at times, all of us lose hope), I will say this — we must always strive to have a strong character. To all those who are facing some storm in their lives today, I leave you with this beacon —

When adversity calls, act with such character that even it feels proud and humbled to judge you.

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