"We all carry emotional baggage of some kind — baggage that can bring with it fear, hurt, guilt, and insecurity. For most of us, there is at least one specific source of pain that lives inside of us and colors the way we see the world. The memory of an alcoholic mother or an abusive father, the pain of being bullied at school, the horror of losing a child, the trauma of being raped, the helplessness of being held hostage by depression, cancer, addiction, or other ailments of the mind and body: these experiences of suffering can be tremendously difficult to overcome.

"They also pose serious threats to finding meaning in life. They can shatter our fundamental assumptions about the world — that people are good, the world is just, and our environment is a safe and predictable place. They can breed cynicism and hatred. They can throw us into despair and even drive us to want to end our lives. They can lead us to have troubled relationships, to lose our sense of identity and purpose, to abandon our faith, to conclude that we don't matter or that life is senseless — that it is all, as Shakespeare's Macbeth says, 'sound and fury, signifying nothing.'

"But this is an incomplete picture of adversity. Traumatic experiences can leave deep, sometimes permanent, wounds. Yet struggling through them can also push us to grow in ways that ultimately make us wiser and our lives more fulfilling."