252 Value in Adversity

Based on research McAdams, D. P., Reynolds, J., Lewis, M., Patten, A. H., & Bowman, P. J. (2001) written by Mara Rowcliffe, MS

Do you feel satisfied with your relationships, career, and overall accomplishments?

According to a psychology research study, there’s a way to influence your feeling life satisfaction. Researchers asked midlife adults to share their life stories during a two-hour conversation. Each participant provided examples of a high point, low point, turning point, earliest memory, and notable memories from childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.  The researchers then analyzed the pattern and details of these stories.

Results indicated that participants who focused on telling stories of redemption, whereby they compensated for past errors or adversities through hard work, ingenuity, and persistence or by finding positive lessons learned from character building or new directions taken, also reported higher life satisfaction. These stories were more strongly linked to life satisfaction than those including just positive emotions.  This indicated it was not just a happy ending that led to higher satisfaction but what one gained or how one viewed their journey through challenges.   In addition to having greater life satisfaction, these participants also were more concerned about being a positive parent or contributing to their community.

Find ways to make amends. See how you’ve gained value from adversity.


McAdams, Dan P., Reynolds, J., Lewis, M., Patten, A. H., & Bowman, P. J. (2001). When bad things turn good and good things turn bad: Sequences of redemption and contamination in life narrative and their relation to psychosocial adaptation in midlife adults and in students. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(4), 474-485.

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