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Sep 11, 2019

Harriet Cabelly’s book, Living Well Despite Adversity: Inspiration for Finding Renewed Meaning and Joy in Your Life, began as a blog entitled, “Rebuild Life Now.” Seeking to represent a “diversity of adversity,” the author conducted monthly interviews with the likes of Cheryl Strayed, Temple Grandin, Meredith Viera, and other lesser-known people, all who have adversity in common. Now, collecting her 36 conversations in a book, Cabelly shares stories of heartbreak and grief, pain and persistence. These interviews illustrate how some have managed to transcend grand challenges by choosing to not only live through adversity but to thrive because of it.



  • When shattered dreams become adversity, we need to rebuild new dreams around our new reality.
  • Unloading = painful journey of going into “a dark pit” of heart-wrenching feelings, which you must go through in order to come through; a liberating experience that releases toxicity
  • Integrating (vs. overcoming, putting behind) - incorporating a challenge by making it part of your new normal with new dreams and goals
  • Asking “Why?” is a waste of energy; instead, ask “How…?”
  • Asking for help to get the support you need takes strength and courage.
  • Writing can be a coping tool for grief and a mechanism to make sense of hard times.
  • Starting an organization to help others who go through similar challenges can be healing.
  • Regardless of why people are hit by adversity, their grieving experience is very similar.
  • By going deep into the pain and allowing yourself to feel hurt, small openings let you see new possibilities, helping you repurpose yourself.
  • Having a newly discovered purpose allows you to go forward living a life with real meaning (Viktor Frankl)
  • When we let down our guard and become vulnerable, we morph into genuine human beings with authentic emotions, which connect us on the deepest human level.


  • "It’s no big deal to live well when all is going well in our lives, but my keen interest has been in those who have a lot of pain and hardship to deal with, yet still manage to—dare I say—thrive. I am in awe of such people."
  • “What does it mean then to live well? It means living with a sense of meaning and purpose, with an ability to experience joy and satisfaction. It means to embrace the positive and deal with the negative; to live aligned with one’s values; to live with intention and be an active creator of our life, to put our best self forward so we can positively impact and be of service to others while we occupy a place on this earth.”
  • “When adversity knocks us for a loop, living well means taking on the challenge and integrating it into our life. It’s not about succumbing to the problems and becoming a victim, or deciding on some level that our life is over because of them. It’s not about becoming bitter; it’s about becoming better.”
  • “Each story is one of success since the people in them have all been able to not just live, but thrive. I offer them as inspiration and as a way for you to see and learn that you too can do it. We are not fixed human beings. We all have the capacity and potential to be more than we are, and to change—even in baby steps.”


Search Harriet Cabelly's book for many additional books written by the people she interviewed.

BUY Living Well Despite Adversity: Inspiration for Finding Renewed Meaning and Joy in Your Life

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