Why Life’s Greatest Setbacks Are Bigger Blessings Than Its Successes

Image via Unsplash/Daniel Ruswick

It’s arguable that retrospect may be the greatest facilitator of growth in life. It’s often while surveying the past events of our lives that we’re given the most clarity and unbiased perspectives. It’s truly a human flaw that we can rarely understand and process the present, as we’ll see it when it’s long gone and in the history books. When tested with failures and disappointments, for example, people have a difficult time dealing with their setbacks in the same calm manner as they often will have when looking back on those same events years later. The same things that caused your heartache and suffering will instead look like life lessons in disguise. Retrospect is a funny thing like that—it will almost always offer you a different perspective on your life’s events than the one you’ll remember having when actually living them. So, rather than waiting 25 years from now to realize that maybe some of the shittiest times of your life were actually the ones that ultimately helped you grow, it may be worth trying to adopt that attitude now. Here’s why you should realize [now] that your life’s greatest setbacks are bigger blessings than the successes:

You’re Learning To Conquer Adversity

Whether it’s your personal or your professional life, adversity spares no one. Every single person will experience his or her share of trial and tribulation on the road to success. That’s one bet you can gamble on right now: You will fail on the way to the top. Rather than deciding that your failures are deciding your fate, it’s wiser to see them as obstacle courses that are meant to knock you down. It’s no easy feat to come back from failing, especially if you fail more than once. Every single time you jump back up on that horse, though, you’re learning to conquer adversity a little bit at a time. Conquering adversity is the ability to trust again after having your heart broken, or changing career paths because the one you chose just isn’t the right one anymore. Fighting back and pushing forward, however you do it and at whatever pace, is facing your setbacks head on, and that takes strength, resilience and perseverance. What you might see now as hardships and disappointments, you’ll realize later were just mini lessons to teach you to fight a winning battle against adversity. Try seeing that now, and it might help you swing your punches a little bit harder.

You’re Learning To Be Humble

It literally takes one catastrophe to strip even the greatest man of everything he has, material and otherwise. No person, no matter how powerful, rich and successful, is above the natural order of life, and it takes but a fleeting second of tragedy to change the course of someone’s destiny forever. It’s a humbling truth but also a comforting one, because it’s a truth that levels the playing field for all mankind. Not everyone can or will have the opportunity to reach the same heights of success, but every single one of us is vulnerable to the unpredictability that is life. When you experience a failure, know that’s life’s way of reminding you that it could always be worse. No matter what, things could always be worse—and they are worse for so many out there. A momentary setback is not the bottom of the pit. But being reminded that you, too, have to put in some effort to keep reaching your goals and achieving your dreams—no matter how much success you’ve enjoyed thus far— will always serve as a humbling realization to keep you grounded.

You’re Learning How To Do Better… At Everything

The most beautiful thing about failing is that it makes—nay, forces—you to try again. But not just try again—try again from a different angle. When attacking a math problem, you can either get it right or you can get it wrong; there’s only one correct answer. If you work your way through all the appropriate steps and somehow end up with the wrong answer, you do it all over again. You take a closer look and examine where you went wrong, how you could have done better—and you try again. While life is nowhere near as rigid as a math problem, the way you approach it doesn’t have to be much different. Of course, our everyday predicaments can often have more than one right or wrong outcome, but when things don’t work out just right, it’s a wonderful opportunity to go back to the drawing table and find a different method. Just imagine, if things always went right on the first go, you would breeze through every event of your life assuming that’s how it was supposed to work. But everything takes a little trial and error to perfect, from your relationships and dream career to your parallel parking and scrambled eggs. Possessing the skill to self-examine and self-correct is a quality that can be appreciated in every realm of life, and you can’t hone it without your share of setbacks. The great thing about it, though, is that once you know what does work, you’ll be that much better at doing it right the next time. No matter what life is throwing your way, you always have to have a strategy for attack. If it doesn’t deliver, you’ll come up with a new one that does—and before you know it, you’ll be counting your blessings that you failed in the first place because how else were you going to get better?