Years ago my tai chi teacher said these Chinese characters represent “Crisis,” the top character a symbol for “Danger;” the bottom character a symbol for “Opportunity.”

Victor H Mair, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, refers to this interpretation as inaccurate “pseudo-profundity.” You may read his essay if interested. I still believe that most perceived crises provide an opening for growth, no matter how fearful the circumstances, a belief he labels as “a type of muddled thinking that is a danger to society, for it lulls people into welcoming crises as unstable situations from which they can benefit.”

Mair suggests, “Adopting a feel-good attitude toward adversity may not be the most rational, realistic approach to its solution.” But a rational, realistic approach is only one part of the human equation. We grow emotionally and spiritually from crisis. That’s not the same as a “feel-good attitude” and certainly doesn’t mean we should welcome crisis. However, many people I’ve coached who’ve undergone divorce, bankruptcy, cancer, divorce, etc., have said it was the best thing that ever happened to them – because it stopped the treadmill they were on and forced them to look at what really matters in a relatively short lifetime.