As a person managing adversity every day of your life you have more power than you realize, especially if that adversity is a chronic physical or mental condition. If you have a chronic challenge in your life and you choose to just keep going in a positive direction in your life, you have likely been given the gift of joy. This combination of forging through adversity while accepting and maintaining joy in your life results in a power that can change the lives of others around you, can change society, and can change the world.

Power is defined as the capacity to influence others and/or the course of events. Joy is an inner spark of positive energy that has a life of its own regardless of what is going on in life. It persists even through unhappy circumstances when you are feeling a loss or disappointment. Joy still has a spark inside you and will radiate from your personality after the loss and disappointment have been resolved and you are able to feel happiness again. Happiness is a positive mood when you are celebrating gratitude for all the good things in your life, but celebrating is not possible in the face of loss; yet the inner spark of joy in your being can remain, giving you hope and a sense of peace.

I consider joy to be a “gift” because it is often of a supernatural nature. It is natural not to be joyful in the face of adversity. But people who have found this “pearl of great price” do not let it go even when they are not able to radiate happiness, and must go through that human process of grieving. There is some choice in possessing joy because you must receive the gift; and also you must be grateful for the fact that you are able to continue moving forward in your life despite the adversity. In that sense, you are choosing joy.

What many people are unaware of is the power that they possess when adversity and joy exist simultaneously within them. This coexistence of opposing forces creates an unstoppable force in the world that is not limited by the “laws of nature.” So often people are consumed with managing the adversity and feeling gratitude until they don’t realize just how powerful they are. People with physical or mental challenges get very focussed on their own survival, and miss what a powerful influence they are capable of having on others. They don’t realize that their joy in the face of adversity has created the ability to have significant influence in the lives of people, whether they know the people personally or not. They can prevent the suicide of a stranger at whom they smile on the subway. They can help thousands of people coping with a natural disaster  miles away by sincerely praying for their well-being. The mere presence of a joyful person in the same room can change the life course of anyone around them.

My favorite psychological study was conducted by Dr. Elaine Hatfield at the University of Hawaii. It profoundly illustrates the influence that we humans have on each other whether we are conscious of it or not. She had people who were strangers sit in a room silently facing away from each other for a short period of time. Those who had measured highly angry at the beginning of the silent experiment, measured happier at the end of this short time period of being in the presence of the people who had measured “happy” in the beginning. Unfortunately, the reverse was also true. The previously happy subjects had also been influenced by the angry ones and measured “angrier” after silent exposure to the angry subjects. This just illustrates the influence that we all have on each other without even knowing it. The power that exists within you as a person persisting through adversity coupled with your joy has created a powerful dynamic force beyond even the “natural” influence of human emotion on each other. Your power can actually heal; and unmanaged, it can be destructive

With great power comes great responsibility. It is up to you to manage that power and be very careful how you are using it. That is one reason it is so important for you to realize that you possess this power. It can have very positive or very negative effects on others. Your anger or fear when allowed to grow to rage or outrage can destroy as easily as your joy can heal. You must certainly feel all of the human emotions, but deal with them constructively and swiftly; then get back to the business of having a positive influence of others. For whatever reason you have been given a gift and it is your responsibility to use it wisely. 

You cannot afford to become caught up in the handwringing or rage of a society consumed with their fears of politicians, “bad people,” or anyone who disagrees with their perspective. Ignore those social media posts, resist the temptation to cheer a journalist or leader who points out all the fearful things in the world. Fear/rage is the opposite of what the world needs now. Just stay the course with your knowledge that the Power which sustains you and gives you joy in the face of adversity can heal the world. Be the light and joy that the world does need.

One of the ways you can mange this gift is to realize its Source and seek wisdom daily in how you will use the gift. Stay in close touch with the Source. Listen to the Source through meditation and conscious mindfulness throughout your day. Your gift is powerful and so is your responsibility in using that power.

You need not fear becoming egotistical or delusional with your power. The kind of power that you possess is completely different than what has come to be known as the “power” of a celebrity or politician who thinks that their influence is of their own superiority to others. If you were that narcissistic you would not have the kind of power you have. Your type of power cannot coexist with narcissism. I imagine that if you started a religion, got a poofy hairstyle and went on television to display your “power,” I’m sure you would fall flat; so don’t try it. Your power is a quiet power. Many people will likely want to be around you, and will hopefully appreciate you. You might even start a movement of sorts; but it is doubtful that your power would translate into stardom, or an oversized ego. You are much too aware of the true Source of your gift of joy and power for that to happen.

I will leave you with a powerful philosophy from Letters of the Scattered Brotherhood (Harper Collins, 1948).

“The kingdom of Heaven is happiness because those who have found it and abide in it have become aware of the beauty of the infinite Spirit. Those who live in that kingdom know that everything must me met and challenged with a shout. Challenge everything with the Spirit of joy. This may seem a hard saying for it seems to leave out pity. No, the lifting quality if confidence, of faith in ultimate victory, heals, sustains and comforts those in darkness and sorrow. If you can keep your inspiration confidently,  many of the discouraging human attributes will be purified. The secret is — and this is what you are here for — to find the pearl of great price, to keep from losing it, from letting it grow dull and to remember that it has the power to release from those characteristics which have held you a prisoner to your own limitations. This is being on the side of the angels.”

             Christopher Knippers, Ph.D.,                 October 6, 2019

One thought on “Adversity + Joy = Power

  1. Dr. Knippers, Thank you, again, for another treasure! The longer we live, the more this becomes a total truth, in every area of our life. God bless you for sharing this with us. We love you! Lisabeth

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