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There Might Actually Be an Accurate Pro Sports Cliché

2013 December 6
by Eric Horowitz

When an athlete finally wins a championship after years of falling short they’ll often say that it’s so much sweeter because of all the adversity they had to overcome. I’ve always written that off as one of the 99.7% of sports clichés that have no factual basis, but a new study lead by the University of British Columbia’s Alyssa Croft suggests there’s some truth to it. Adversity might actually make success feel better:

Can experiencing adversity enhance people’s appreciation for life’s small pleasures? To examine this question, we asked nearly 15,000 adults to complete a vignette-based measure of savoring. In addition, we presented participants with a checklist of adverse events (e.g., divorce, death of a loved one) and asked them to indicate whether they had experienced any of these events and, if so, to specify whether they felt they had emotionally dealt with the negative event or were still struggling with it. Although people who were currently struggling with adversity reported a diminished proclivity for savoring positive events, individuals who had dealt with more adversity in the past reported an elevated capacity for savoring. Thus, the worst experiences in life may come with an eventual upside, by promoting the ability to appreciate life’s small pleasures.

I wholeheartedly condone snarkily using this as an excuse the next time you accidentally screw over a friend.

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