I have, as of late, been exploring this notion of "post traumatic growth". I rather like the concept because, for me, it supports the notion that our suffering is actually doing something beneficial and that we'll end up doing great things because of all the crap we've been through.
We have all heard of post-traumatic stress syndrome. We have studied how human beings deal with and react to extreme stressors they encounter in their lives: war, attack, financial ruin, illness, death. There are thousands of tragedies and crises that can produce extreme stress in human beings. But very few people have actually studied how people respond to stress in a positive way. There is something called post-traumatic growth. You can have amazing personal growth come out of extremely stressful situations. And that's what I talk to people about. When you face extreme stress you have a couple of options. One positive option is to face that stress, do something and try to deal with that problem in your life. Reappraise your life. Decide that you "have to look at life differently." It's the proactive approach.
Three benefits of extreme stress:
- You discover what you are made of. You come to realize that you are stronger than you ever dreamed. Your sense of what you are capable of shifts and becomes an "immune system" that allows you to face other challenges in your future more easily.
- It deepens all of your relationships. You get to find out who your real friends are. The depth and the appreciation of those friendships is extraordinary. When you experience an extreme stressor and you aren't able to give everyone everything they want, your fair-weather friends disappear. Remember, what truly makes people most happy is their internal emotional and social relationships.
- Changes your consciousness. When things are going well we keep expecting things to keep going well. It puts a different perspective on your life. You value the little things in life more.