Do We Actually Need Adversity to Flourish?

Purpose requires learning, growth, challenge, and tension, which are often found while enduring adverse situations.

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We may think of flourishing as a state of happiness. But how do difficulties, the ups and downs of life, and post-traumatic growth impact our capacity to flourish? 

We hear from internationally acclaimed musician and advocate of American culture, Wynton Marsalis; Yale University cognitive scientist, Laurie Santos, President of Women in Africa and Nigerian Human Rights Activist, Hafsat Abiola; Harvard social scientist professor, Arthur Brooks; Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Dr. Steven Croft; University of Pennsylvania Character Lab’s founder and CEO, Angela Duckworth; President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, The Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson; and AGRA President and UN Special Envoy, Agnes Kalibata in this episode of Templeton World Charity Foundation’s “Stories of Impact” video series. They discuss how character strengths like perseverance, acceptance, determination, and resilience can encourage us to flourish, even in the face of adversity.

Purpose requires learning, growth, challenge, and tension, which are often found while enduring adverse situations. We need purpose in our lives to truly flourish. It is also from adversity that we can develop grit. This allows us to work towards something so meaningful that you persevere despite setbacks. 

Now more than ever, we are reminded that a flourishing life is not always a uniformly happy life. Flourishing means negotiating a range of experiences. Moments of peace and happiness and joy in our lives are needed in order to sustain us through the more difficult areas. In times of difficulties, it’s useful to have strategies for navigating negative emotions.

More about flourishing in the face of adversity can be found at Templeton World Charity Foundation’s Future of Flourishing blog.


Templeton World Charity Foundation’s (TWCF) “Stories of Impact” videos by journalist and senior media executive Richard Sergay feature human stories and critical perspectives on breakthroughs about the universe’s big questions. The inspiring narratives and observations in these award-winning videos portray the individual and societal impacts of the projects that bring to life TWCF-supported research.

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