Jul 2, 2020 Anti-Fragile - How We Can Turn Adversity Into Growth

Owen Fitzpatrick, Psychologist, Author, TEDx talker, filmmaker, and yes, born and raised in Ireland, explains what the anti-fragile mind is, and how we can turn adversity into our own growth.

"Hi there, I’m Owen Fitzpatrick, and this is a video for the Calm collection. One of the mostpowerful strategies that are out there at the moment to help you to be able to deal with adversity is what I call the “anti fragile mindset.”

Now, “anti fragile” is a term that came along [inaudible] who wrote a book called Anti Fragile a few years ago, and it was written to describe the opposite of fragile. So, fragile is when you expose something to adversity – or chaos – it breaks. And so resilient is when you expose something to, you know, adversity or chaos, it is able to bounce back, but anti fragile is even stronger than that. Anti fragile is something that grows because you’ve exposed it to adversity.

And so, if you think about your muscles. When you lift weights, for instance, you break down the muscle fibers in your arms, and as a result, those muscle fibers grow back bigger as a result, because they are, what we call, anti fragile. In many ways, human beings are very anti fragile, and we have the capacity and the ability to be able to grow and triumph, not just through adversity, but because of adversity.

When we face challenges, it forces us to step up. In any film or any movie, the more the dangerous the antagonist or the bad person, the stronger the good person has to become in order to defeat them. So the anti fragile mindset is a remarkably useful way of thinking about any adversity or crisis that you face.

A couple of ways to be able to do this is, the first thing you can do is ask the questions, “What lessons can I learn from this adversity?” So, whatever negative thing that’s happened, “What lessons can I learn that will help me to be a better or stronger as a result?”

A second question you can ask is “What are the advantages as a result of this happening?” So, what are the advantages – because of COVID-19 – what are the advantages, what are the benefits that COVID-19 provided for me? What is the benefit or me losing my job? What are the benefits to me being, you know, broken up with? No matter how bad it is, you’re looking for the benefits. You’re not saying it’s a good thing, but you’re asking, “What are the good factors about it?” So, why can this be a good thing?

So, the first question, once again, is that you’re looking for the lessons, “What can I learn from this?” The second thing is “How can this be a good thing,” or “What advantages am I gonna get from this?” And the third thing is, “What can I make this mean?” And so you want to ascribe meaning to that event. What is the meaning you can give to that adversity that makes you more empowered, more successful, and makes you thrive in the future.

The more that you start to do this, the more you can revolutionize the way in which you deal with crises so that regardless of what you’re facing, you’ll be able to deal with it, you’ll be able to handle it, you can manage this and you can turn this into something that allows you to transform your life, and become a lot happier as a result. So, once again, to build an anti fragile mindset, you can become stronger as a result of adversity, and whatever you face a crisis, or a negative event happening, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” What the advantages of this?” and “What is the most useful meaning I can give to this?” When you do that, you can turn anything into something that helps you.

I hope you found this useful. It’s a pleasure for me to be able to share this with you, and I’m delighted that Thomas asked me to do this. For now, I’m Owen Fitzpatrick. Thank you very much for watching."