Everyone has heard of people overcoming adversity and becoming stronger because of their hardships. Some of these people are known as “Supersurvivors”-essentially someone who had life crap on them but then went on to do ridiculously awesome things. One example of a super survivor would be Alan Lock, who became the first blind person to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean (taking 86 days to complete). Alan was not born blind but was born with macular degeneration which took his sight at the age of 25. Could you imagine going blind after 25 years of beautiful sight? I would be extremely depressed and probably would commence a slow suicide through constant ice cream consumption. Lock’s feats and countless other examples of Supersurvivors are hard to comprehend. It takes unique skills and resources to not just overcome tragedy but come out better than before. So what is the secret? There are three things that I learned from Supersurvivors: The Surprising Like Between Suffering and Success by David Feldman.
- Have a grounded hope-be optimistic but realistic. Have confidence in your future but base that on what factors you can best control. For example, Lock knew he would never get his eyesight back (realistic) but he knew that he could use other skills to accomplish great feats in the future (row 3,000 miles).
- How you feel in the moment is not how you will feel in the future. The news of having cancer is awful but most people will tell you that soon afterwards they regained their pre-cancer levels of happiness. Humans are resilient and the more we are conscious of this resilience the more we can plan to do great things.
- Surround yourself with people who don’t enable you. Don’t gravitate towards complainers who will make your crappy condition worse. People who truly love you will encourage and push you to be a better version of your self. Iron sharpens iron, everyone needs a great team to be a Supersurvivor.
Of course we do not all need to be Supersurvivors but it is nice to know that we all have the potential to do great things no matter the situation. I need to always remind myself that I am not above the statistics. I am just as likely to get cancer, die in a car accident, or be faced with an adversity as everyone else. Knowing this makes me feel more vulnerable but it also helps me appreciate my blessings. It is easy to assume that we will all live to 95 and die in our sleep but that assumption is actually a bad one. If we are unrealistic about our fragility then we are more likely to delay life goals, be absent minded, and hold off that phone call to a loved one. Live your life in the now because we are all delicate beings in a unknown world. Don’t be sad about your fragility, use it as a catalyst to be a Supersurvivor and dominate whatever comes your way.