Sweet Are The Uses of Adversity

Adversity may be defined as affliction, misfortune, or any circumstance that is apparently injurious to us or opposed to our interests and welfare.

It is one of the paradoxes of nature that if one wishes to increase something one must expend. If we wish to increase our muscular strength we must expend our physical energies in exercise, and same is true of our mental and spiritual natures. To improve in any department of life one must make an effort to overcome difficulties. There can be no standing still. One must progress or retrogress. The greater the difficulty, and the more intense the effort required to overcome it, the greater will be our gain in strength and reward.
In As You Like It Shakespeare tells us of a ruler who has been wrongfully deprived of his duchy and forced to wander in exile in the forest of Arden with few faithful followers. The banished duke is made to remark: “Sweet are the uses of adversity.” He means that his misfortunes have driven him into closer contact with Nature in both her stern and gentle moods, that he has achieved that calm and sweet content which comes only from sincere effort and simplicity, that he has learned to listen to ‘sermons in stones’ and ‘tongues in trees.’ The wisdom and vision which the scholars and seers in books has been given to him by the ‘running brooks’. His misfortunes have been great but he has earned a sweet reward by his mature understanding of life and communion with nature. Such is the immediate application of the saying, but it is capable of a wider meaning. Failure is, no doubt, a misfortune. But failure is often blessing in disguise. We learn from our mistakes and each failure teaches us at least what to avoid in future. It is for this reason that failures have been described as the pillars of success. Our misfortunes are but the signposts pointing the way to the true road to success.

The struggle against the misfortunes strengthens the character. It is a great means of acquiring the right type of self discipline. It gives us courage and confidence to fight against overwhelming odds. If life were a smooth sailing it would become altogether a humdrum and insipid. All the spirit of adventure would go out of it. Patience and perseverance in the face of difficulty and defeat makes the final success all the more covetable. Every difficulty overcome, every victory won, increases our power for the next struggle. No athlete can achieve success without a long and strenuous period of training. Success in life cannot be attained without striving against and overcoming seemingly insurmountable difficulties. If we study the life of great men of thought and action, the truth of this statement is proved by their unflagging efforts to achieve the great purposes and ideals that inspired their lives.    

Ill health is great affliction, but the force of character gained by a person who has had to fight each step of his or her way against sickness and weakness may carry him on to much greater things.The fruit of adversity is sweet, and though it might take a long time to ripen, it will surely come, provided we prove ourselves fit to partake it.