If you’ve had these 7 experiences in life, you’re gaining wisdom and resilience

Life has a way of testing us. 

Between unexpected challenges, significant losses, and major life changes, it can sometimes feel like we’re being pushed to our absolute limits. It’s not uncommon to feel like we’ll never make it through to the other side. 

But we usually do. 

And what we don’t always realize is that each of these experiences, while incredibly difficult in the moment, serves an important purpose. 

They build within us reserves of resilience and wells of wisdom that we can draw from for the rest of our lives. Or, as more poeticly put by author Matshona Dhliwayo, “A diamond earns its sparkle from the pressure it endures.”

If you’ve made it through even a handful of significant life challenges, you likely have far more strength and wisdom than you know. 

What challenges? 

Challenges like the seven we cover today.  

1) You’ve gotten through a career setback 

We’ve all heard the success stories – the CEOs, entrepreneurs, and innovators who overcame early career failures to reach the pinnacle of business success. 

From Steve Jobs getting fired from Apple to J.K. Rowling being rejected by publishers over and over, failure often seems to precede career triumph.

If you’ve ever lost a job or been shunned for a promotion you were promised, you know how devastating a career setback can feel in the moment.

Your confidence takes a hit, your finances may suffer, and it’s natural to question your skills and talents. 

But the truth is, experiencing a career failure and moving past it is a sure sign you’re gaining resilience. 

Rather than letting the failure defeat you, you picked yourself up, took stock, and forged ahead down a new path. That ability to bounce back in the face of disappointment will serve you well throughout your working life. 

Not only that, you likely emerged wiser about your strengths, smarter about risks, and more driven to succeed. 

Some researchers have even found evidence that getting laid off can make us stronger professionals. In their study, 91% of the executives who got fired went on to get a job that was “as good or better than their last.” 

Maybe what doesn’t kill us truly does make us stronger

2) You’ve experienced heartbreak

Heartbreak – it’s one of life’s most painful experiences. 

The end of a meaningful relationship can feel like your entire world is crashing down around you.

When you’ve invested your hopes, dreams, time, and love into someone, only to have the relationship unravel, the grief can seem unbearable. Your heart aches, you can’t eat or sleep, and even getting out of bed feels like an immense challenge.

Yet, if you found a way to pick up the pieces and open your heart again after heartbreak, you’ve gained an incredible reserve of inner strength. 

Healing from romantic disappointment requires resilience, self-reflection, and deep personal growth.

Coming through to the other side shows that you can tap into unknown wells of wisdom and persistence when faced with an emotional crisis.

So, even if the experience left you bruised for a time, take pride in the fact that you summoned the courage to get through it. 

3) You’ve lived abroad

I can speak from experience here. In my early twenties, fueled by youthful naivety, I up and moved to Vietnam on my own without knowing a soul there. 

As you might have guessed, I quickly ran up against challenges from language barriers to cultural differences to unfamiliar cuisine. But the biggest challenge? 

The loneliness of being disconnected from everyone and everything I knew.

It wasn’t all bad, though. In fact, it may have been the best thing I have ever done. 

It forced me to dig deep and draw on inner resilience I didn’t know I had. Faced with homesickness and doubt, I found the courage to embrace a drastically different environment rather than retreat.

Adapting to new cultural norms, struggling through mundane tasks like grocery shopping, and putting myself out there to make friends tested my patience and creativity daily. 

But with each small win, I got more positive. 

The experience also expanded my worldview exponentially. I gained wisdom about cultures, connected with locals in profound ways, and discovered strength within myself I had previously underestimated.

Most of all, perhaps, I got to know myself better by questioning everything I thought I knew to be true or ‘right.’ Well, maybe not everything, but a lot of things. 

And I’m not alone. Studies back this up with some researchers noting that their “results indicate that living abroad leads to a clearer sense of self because it prompts self-discerning reflections on whether parts of their identity truly define who they are or merely reflect their cultural upbringing”. 

If you’ve similarly dared to relocate to foreign soil, you can probably relate. 

Don’t underestimate its value. By daring to be a fish out of water, you’ve proven you can not just survive but thrive in unfamiliar territory through determination and an open mind.

4) You have moved to a new city

Even if not abroad, moving to a new city can provide much of the same resilience-building and wisdom-forming benefits. 

When you’re out of your comfort zone in a new city, everything from finding your go-to coffee shop to building a social circle feels like a challenge.

Adapting to new norms, figuring out the transportation system, finding new favorite restaurants – these may seem like small wins, but they represent your persistence and ability to bloom wherever you’re planted.

And you probably gained wisdom in the process. Immersing yourself in a new place teaches open-mindedness, empathy for the experience of outsiders, and appreciation for differences. 

You learn that your way is not the only way and that there are so many rich, diverse perspectives beyond your own.

5) You’ve experienced financial hardship

patters on spending right path financial independence If you’ve had these 7 experiences in life, you’re gaining wisdom and resilience

Few things test our mettle like financial struggles. 

When we can’t make ends meet due to job loss, unexpected expenses, or other money stressors, it takes resilience not to crumble.

If you’ve ever had to scrape by paycheck to paycheck, slash your budget to the bare bones, or go into debt just to stay afloat, you understand how traumatic financial instability can be. 

It permeates every aspect of life, from relationships to health to your sense of security.

Yet if you managed to endure lean times with resourcefulness – whether through strict budgeting, picking up extra work, or seeking help – you’ve proven your strength. 

Scarcity also teaches powerful lessons about wants versus needs, generosity, and living within your means. Through it, we learn to build wisdom around desires, saving, planning ahead, and avoiding unnecessary risks. 

6) You’ve started a business (even if you failed)

As someone who has started a business myself, I know firsthand how exhilarating yet terrifying it is to conceptualize an idea, craft a business plan, and take that vision public.

You’re venturing into the unknown, facing countless obstacles, from permits and funding to marketing and product launches. There are simply no guarantees in the world of business ownership.

But if you’ve ever taken the bold step of turning your idea into a commercial venture, you’ve showcased tremendous grit and resilience, whether your business succeeded wildly or failed to gain traction.

Even if the business was short-lived, the wisdom and maturity you’ve gained are invaluable. The experience equips you with critical skills in risk-taking, adaptability, and overcoming fear of failure

Not only that, you probably now have a deeper appreciation for all it takes to build something from the ground up. That firsthand experience is worth its weight in gold.

7) You’ve lost a loved one

Losing someone close to you is profoundly difficult. The grief can feel crushing in those first raw days and weeks.

Yet if you found a way forward, taking one day at a time when getting out of bed seems impossible, you’ve shown incredible resilience.

While the anguish may never fully fade, you’ve proven you have reserves of courage to continue carrying their memory with you.

As put by Mental Health America, “When bad things happen they can be painful to go through, but as you continue to live your life without the person, thing, or situation you once had, you become a stronger person.”

Research also suggests this experience also teaches us wisdom – about how precious life really is. It can encourage appreciating each day more fully and living purposefully to honor those we’ve lost.

The bottom line 

Life certainly does test us.

But if we can find the courage and wisdom to navigate these challenges, we emerge stronger, more resilient, and better equipped to handle whatever comes next. 

The next time life throws you a curveball, draw on the hard-won lessons from past experiences like the ones above to guide you. 

As always, I hope you found this post valuable. 

Until next time. 

Picture of Mal James

Mal James

Originally from Ireland, Mal is a content writer, entrepreneur, and teacher with a passion for self-development, productivity, relationships, and business. As an avid reader, Mal delves into a diverse range of genres, expanding his knowledge and honing his writing skills to empower readers to embark on their own transformative journeys. In his downtime, Mal can be found on the golf course or exploring the beautiful landscapes and diverse culture of Vietnam, where he is now based.

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