Difference Between Fact and Opinions

Personal Growth Can Come Through Tragedy

This morning I’m sitting in the physical therapy clinic with a heat pack on my shoulder, writing once again from my iPhone. I’ve been coming here for about a year now. Since the original incident last January, I’ve gone through a lot of physical changes but what I notice the most is the change that happens inside a person as when they go through trials.

I have a lot of opportunity to visit with the other patients here – many of whom have had much worse injuries than mine. Most will never be the same as they were before. It’s interesting how differently people deal with such challenges. Some are very depressed but several I’ve met are quite optimistic and talk about what they’ve learned in the course of their recovery.

The second kind of people are the ones who are growing inside through their trials. They express learning to have more patience, humility, persevering and a strengthened faith. Honestly, I’ve felt & both ways, first getting down over my injured condition and later finding inspiration through this situation.

Why is it that we seem to learn and grow the most through adversity?

One man I know was injured much worse than I was. Recently getting out of his body cast and still walking with a cane, he has learned to joke about his condition. What really moved me was something else he shared as we talked. He was angry after he first got hurt. He wondered why this had happened to him and described his feelings were like it was an injustice in some way.

After a few months, he turned his focus to his faith & began to see life lessons that he felt he should be learning through his situation. Lessons like humility, acceptance and forgiveness. Since that realization, he’s started to heal faster and has been much happier.

Ever notice how personal growth seems to somehow be tied to challenges & trials?

This man’s story inspired me & I’ve thought about it a lot since we first talked in the clinic that day. After I was injured over a year ago, I dealt with a lot of frustrations & anger and at times took them out on other people. I’ve struggled in my own faith and keeping a positive mindset has often been a challenge. Yet through this, I’ve also learned more about myself and others than ever before when it comes to patience & understanding.

It all makes me wonder if God does indeed have a sense of humor, as Albert Einstein had said. Or is it more a matter of the lessons having more value to us if there is some pain or grief involved?

Through my own situation, I’m trying to learn more patience, humility and strengthen my faith. What I’ve noticed is how people seem to come to realizations about themselves and experience more personal growth through tragedies & challenges than at any other time of their lives. It’s a paradox to me but most of us share the same feeling when we wish that personal development & realization could come in an easier way.

I don’t pretend to know the details about what power or science there is behind faith & humility when it comes to healing the body and mind. What I do know is, there are countless stories of people who’ve experienced something very similar. Positive energy facilitates healing and peace within. We shouldn’t wait for an accident of some kind to begin attracting this kind of positive & strengthening our own patience & faith. Today is a great time. We really can gain healing power & lessons through physical trials.

There are tons of books and even movies about this same theme – personal growth & development that comes through physical challenge. One of my recently read favorites is, “90 Minutes in Heaven“. It’s the true story of Don Piper, who is involved in a horrific car accident. His recovery leads him on a miraculous and inspiring journey of personal & spiritual growth as he overcomes the darkness that follows his own tragedy. It’s a very compelling book – one I’d recommend checking out through the link, below.

90 Minutes in Heaven


  1. Thanks Cole, stories on human being meeting and overcoming adversity, building resilience are always inspirational. Makes one grateful for being human.

  2. NIce post – your blog looks really great, put a lot of effort into it. I do not recall what the accident/incident was that took place a year or so ago – was it a car accident?

  3. This is a subject I’ve been very interested in, dealing with in an indirect way, lately. You share some great thoughts — thank you, Cole!

  4. There is clearly a relationship between recovery from injury and personal growth. I am so convinced of that, because I went through recovery after difficult injuries so many times. It always gave me something back in my attitude and how to deal with bad stuff. And you can transfer that from the injuries in sports or accidents to problems at work or in life in general. Recovery from such is always a test, or a lesson, of your strength and attitude and empowers you for other things. There is no limit to what it could be.

  5. Many of us have a no strength to follow a regimen everyday to grow. Yet, we do follow doctors’ order [may not be a medical doctor literally] when we are cornered by adversity. We fight back when life is no longer easy, yet we laid back when life is easy. Thanks for sharing your personal experience. Many of us get inspiration from personal story everyday.

    • @NicolasLiu You are so right Nicolas. When things in life are easy, we tend to get lax. Only when “cornered by adversity”, as you put it, do many people truly strive. Excellent insight. Thank you!

  6. Very thoughtful post, Cole! Thank you very much for sharing. To a lot of people physical (+ emotional) sufferings gave such a big push for personal growth. At the same time can’t agree more that if you can change your mind, you can change your life.

  7. Dear Cole:

    it is true we experience more valley’s than peaks in our life time. I personally have encountered the most challenging period of my life over the last ten years, especially the last two and a half. Many have asked, how do you keep such a positive attitude amidst such challenging circumstances. My saving grace is my faith which I devote the first three hours of each day to improving my personal relationship and through affirmations. In my profession, I’m known as an encourager and motivator. Suffering through grief and trials has certainly placed a large strain on me no doubt. But my time spent in my faith instills a never ending hope the best yet to come. I believe this and sow it out to those I encounter on daily basis too. The result is we all benefit and the support and encouragement I receive back feeds my soul and coping abilities making me even stronger than would I have been if I just stuffed my emotions. Yes the struggles have brought me patience I’ve never known before as well as a humility. But today, I wouldn’t trade places with the previous me; personally, spiritually or emotionally. My trials have strengthened my faith, resolve and relationships. I do believe in the power of positive thinking, surrounding yourself with those of a balanced disposition and the healing powers there in. Thank you Cole for your post. It is also cathartic to share in a forum such as this. Blessings, Greg

    • @GregoryJackson Gregory, I believe there are millions who can in some way relate to what you’ve shared here. Many may not want to come out & say it. You’re an inspiration to many around the world. Thank you.

  8. Dear Cole,

    Growth through adversity, not all can go understand or achieve growth but those that do initially undergo tremendous strain but suddenly a light sparks and all is calm, whether its because of understanding or coming to terms with the circumstance or the situation, whatever it may be, the individual not only has personal growth but has influence over others around them, We grow to love easier, forget anger and suffering and have less physical attachments or rather less materialistic and can actually be a participating observer. Well that is only my opinion. Have a Great life, Live Life and see things as what they are. Cheers, wonderful topic !

  9. Hello Cole did not know your “problems of this period”. In writing your personal experience you have to say, accepted and tried tounderstand it. But what I like most from this paper and the profound optimism that emanates and the desire to understand and combat, taking something positive, always. I wish you a wonderful Sunday from Turin, a city in northern Italy. Ciao 🙂

    • @WarrenWhitlock Hey Warren, thank you. I have to agree, all experience is just experience. Do you believe that certain types of experiences lead to more realization, understanding or personal growth?

  10. Last year I had breast cancer. I haven’t ‘beaten’ it (the metaphor doesn’t feel right) but it has taught me something, once I got over the anger (yes, me too!). The things I have always known were true – summed up as ‘live each day as if it were your last’, I now feel rather than just knowing in my head. This is a good, true and inspiring post.

    • @lauracsykes Thank you for sharing your own experience, Laura. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to go through what you’re dealing with now. Living each day as if it were our last may be some of the best advice anyone could live by. Keep living that way Lauara…and thank you again!

  11. It is profound out the deep connection between mind and body is the same connection required for true success in life. A wonderful article Cole. Thank you.

    • @TeresadeGrosbois That’s a wonderfully simple way to help us imagine how this works, Teresa! The body and mind work together – and when the mind defeats the “system” by having a negative focus, of course the body will follow. Thank you Teresa!


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