I just watched a TED talk given by a young mother named Stacey Kramer. She explained that she had recently received an amazing gift. Her gift was the size of a golf ball, yet, its impact on her life had been massive. It had brought her family together, made her feel loved and appreciated and allowed her to reconnect with friends. It had helped her focus what was important in her life and re-established her faith.

What was this priceless gift? Stacey revealed, to everyone’s surprise, that it was a brain tumor.

Her diagnosis was a surprise and fortunately her treatment had been successful. Her story was a beautiful example of how, for some people, hardship can trigger creative growth. Her message was both simple and profound – dealing with tough times can be a gift.

Stacey’s experience was powerful, but, not unique. In his article in the March 2014 edition of Scientific American, Scott Barry Kaufman calls this kind of experience “post traumatic growth.” He talks about great artists and authors who experienced a traumatic childhood, but went on to be geniuses in their fields. Mr Kaufman says their pain seemed to turn on their creative brilliance.

This field of research is validating what a lot of women in the Sixty and Me Community already know – necessity is the mother of invention. When dealing with tough times or facing suffering in our lives, we often find resources deep inside that allow us to find creative solutions. Many women find that challenging, even traumatic, experiences can act as catalysts for positive transformation.

Some years ago, I worked with Elizabeth Kubler Ross. I was fortunate to see how individuals facing a serious illness were often the most inspiring and beautiful people.

At the time it may be hard to recognize our challenges as gifts. However, going through tough times with self-awareness and courage just may allow us to emerge a stronger and more positive person.

Have you experienced an unexpected illness, loss or traumatic experience that has transformed you? Have tough times given you a stronger more creative approach to your life? Please leave your comments below to keep the conversation going.

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Find out how to be happier and more positive in retirement in my interview with the inspirational Gretchen Rubin.

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