OVERCOME ADVERSITY JOYFULLY
A new book ARGUES that you can OVERCOME the worst EXPERIENCES of your life – from HEARTBREAK to breakdowns and career SETBACKS – while still HOPING for the best.
author (and our editor!) Amy Molloy shares how setbacks and hurdles in life can be turned around, and her new book that dives deep on it all
Tsunami survivors, 9/11 rescue workers, infertility sufferers, shark attack victims, and Australian super woman Turia Pitt, who suffered burns to 65 per cent of her body – what do these people have in common? They prove you can overcome the worst experiences of your life, while still hoping for the best afterwards – if you have the right coping mechanisms and strategies. This is according to a new book, The World is a Nice Place: How to Overcome Adversity, Joyfully. It’s the product of 10 years’ worth of research by author Amy Molloy (also Collective Hub’s editor!), and is leading a revolution for optimistic living.
A ‘serial survivor’ herself, Amy wanted to discover the secret formula that allows some people to move forward – joyfully – after difficulty, without letting it become their identity. Here’s what she learnt in the process…
THE FIRST QUARTER OF MY LIFE CAN BE BEST DESCRIBED AS EVENTFUL.
From a dangerously premature baby, I became a child with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, a teenager with an eating disorder and a 23-year-old widow. Throw in a family history of depression and a father who was paralysed by cancer, and it’s a recipe for a messed-up adult. Or is it? I learnt to overcome my early hurdles without letting them become my identity, instead using them to empower and guide me.
I’VE SPENT MY CAREER TRACKING DOWN AMAZING PEOPLE WHO HAVE FACED AMAZING CHALLENGES.
I’ve interviewed 9/11 rescue workers, survivors of plane crashes, and victims who have scrambled out of natural disasters. I’ve also seen evidence that ‘everyday’ events, like a loss, breakup, or even having a critical parent can be just as destructive to our psyche as catastrophes. I wanted to discover why some people’s lives are destroyed by an event, and others can thrive afterwards.
THERE ARE LESSONS AT YOUR LOWEST POINT.
When I was 17 and eating just one piece of toast per week, my mother gave me a piece of advice that became the basis of my anorexia recovery: “If only you could take the determination that you’re using to starve yourself and instead channel it into something positive, then you could achieve anything,” she said. She saw the emotional strength behind my physical weakness. If only I could channel that power into projects that allowed me to grow rather than shrink.
SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO GO OFF THE RAILS TO GET ONTO THE RIGHT TRACK.
If you’ve been labelled as rebellious, difficult or a troublemaker, don’t let the stigma of that hold you back. Non-conforming choices can take you on an extraordinary journey. Sometimes it takes a degree of selfishness to go the distance – so forgive yourself for that. Some of the most amazing entrepreneurs alive were called ‘difficult’ in the past. >
I wanted to discover why some people's lives are destroyed by an early event, and why other people can thrive afterwards
My phone call any email, any meeting could be the one that changes your life forever.
I’M NOT A NATURALLY HAPPY PERSON.
I’m a strategically happy one. I grew up being told depression runs in my family – especially with the women. That’s why, as a journalist, I’ve gravitated towards mental-health topics, eager to uncover a ‘magic’ formula to a glass-half-full mentality. I’m thankful I grew up with a black dog in my living room. It made me determined to find ways to engineer optimism.
The most empowered people do! For months after my first husband’s death, I carried a huge rabbit-shaped hot water bottle whenever I left the house. It was ridiculous, but it brought me comfort. Today, every night I light a candle and set a positive intention. Think about your senses – the tastes, smells, sounds, memories and materials that bring you joy. Then find ways to carry these elements with you during your day – everywhere, if need be.
THERE’S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ROUTINE AND RITUALS.
It’s become trendy to ask people, ‘What’s your morning routine?’ The answer is usually a combination of caffeine, exercise and meditation. But I often get the sense some people’s hearts aren’t really in it. Do they follow this routine because it makes them wake up sparkling or because it’s what Mark Zuckerberg does? Instead, when you wake up, ask yourself, ‘What do I need to do to feel good right now?’ It’s a game-changing tip my life coach taught me.
TRAUMA CAN AFFECT OUR ATTITUDE TO TIME.
A child with separation anxiety counts the minutes until their mother returns. A three-day wait for test results feels like a lifetime. What does a day in your life mean to you? How far do you plan ahead? Our unique experiences can give us fear and anxiety around the passing of time; how we savour or waste it. An entrepreneur I met instated a ‘no-rush rule’ in her career. Rather than worrying about being left behind, she only takes a step when she feels really ready.
YOU CAN CHOOSE HOW TO REACT TO BAD NEWS.
When a fertility specialist I know found out her newborn son had cystic fibrosis, she sent her friends and family an email explaining what had happened, asking for space. She then went into a ‘grieving pit’ for three days, shutting herself in her house with no contact with the outside world. “There are studies that suggest grief can take just 72 hours to process,” she said. “Only if you’re totally immersed in it, though.” It’s not for everyone, but it worked for her.
In 2016, I wrote an investigative piece for Collective Hub about the rate of teenage suicides in Silicon Valley. Teenagers talked about the exhaustion they felt from trying to ‘do it all’, excel and match their peers. Sound familiar? At the height of my career, I checked into ‘perfectionist rehab’ (yes, it’s a thing!). During six months of outpatient treatment, I learnt to be better at being bad at things, and embrace my flaws.
The creative director of GoPro told me about the time he swam into an underwater canyon to ‘dance’ with humpback whales. I also interviewed champion free-diver William Trubridge, the first person to dive to 100 metres unassisted, about why the sport is a form of meditation. Alyssa Azar, the youngest Australian to summit Everest, says the mountain kept her humble. Get out in nature – and leave your phone behind – to ease your worries, instantly.
DON’T WAIT UNTIL YOU NEED RESILIENCE TO BE RESILIENT.
The American Psychological Association says resilience is an ongoing process that requires time and effort, and takes people a number of steps to accomplish. So, if your life has been a series of challenges, you could see yourself as lucky you’ve had practice! When I crowdsourced tips for resilience, there was one common theme: it’s a conscious choice to grow this characteristic.
IN ANY CAREER, ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN TOMORROW.
You could be promoted, or someone else could be promoted above you. Ever since I was widowed, when I’ve gone through a ‘success drought’ and nothing feels like it’s going my way, I repeat the mantra: ‘Any phone call, any email, any meeting could be the one that changes your life forever.’ If you can’t hope for a better day, just hope for another day. You never know what might happen tomorrow. You did the best you could, with the tools you had at the time. Write this out and stick it somewhere prominent! It’s easy to look back with regrets or ‘what ifs’ for a certain period at a life choice. But you were doing the best you could, at that time, at that age, with your life experiences. All the best people have a bad patch. How can your past become a superpower?