Adversity, in Moderation, is a Good Thing

A bit of adversity actually does breed strength, at least according to the results of a three-year longitudinal study on the impact of negative life events on mental health. The study, Whatever Does Not Kill Us: Cumulative Lifetime Adversity, Vulnerability and Resilience, by Mark Seery, Alison Holman, and Roxanne Cohen Silver appears in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, online at the American Psychological Association website.

The researchers found that persons who had experienced some adverse events in their lifetime reported better mental health/well-being outcomes than those with a history of much adversity or those reporting zero experience with adversity. The study is not causal, but suggests that, in moderation, bad things may assist in the development of coping skills and/or resilience.

Laura Landro, at the Wall Street Journal’s business page also writes about this study and the importance of a community network for young people experiencing adversity.

Does having walked the edge of the proverbial abyss once or twice make a person feel more empowered when faced with other instances of adversity or is our ability to bounce back simply a part of the process of maturing?