Realizing What You’re Made Of

by Glenn E. Mangurian

THOSE WHO HAVE SURVIVED a traumatic, life-altering event often convey a curious sentiment: They wouldn’t have it any other way. Some people emerge from adversity—whether a career crisis or a devastating breakup or a frightening diagnosis—not just changed but stronger and more content. They seem to have found new peace and even an optimism that they didn’t have before. It’s tempting to dismiss this sort of response as making the best of a bad situation. Not long ago, I would have done so, too.

On May 26, 2001, I suffered an unprovoked disc rupture that pressed against my spinal cord, leaving the lower half of my body permanently paralyzed. I had two lengthy operations and spent two months of ...

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