The whole theory of adversity quotient and its application are extremely relevant to elderly. They are in such a stage of life where life is full of adversities. These adversities or problems could be in terms of age-related diseases, decline in cognitive abilities, anxiety arising out of less social connectedness, departure of partner or near colleagues, amidst similar other challenges.
Human life journey is full of ups and downs. But the strength of character of an individual is often best tested when one is passing through a phase of adversity. It tests the endurance; more importantly, an individual having high capacity and attribute of tolerance as well as resilience can bump off successfully and emerge winner. As the wise man Solomon once righty said, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” There is thus need to inculcate the ability to fight adversities of life.
If one looks at success stories of some great people across various streams of life, the common denominator for success has been ability to fight adversity. Psychologists have thus always tried to find out the various traits and attributes of individuals who have greater ability to rebound out of storm of adversity.
Concept of Adversity Quotient (AQ) and Its Practice:
The concept of AQ is of recent origin term being first coined in 1997 by Paul Stoltz, American Psychologist in his book “Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities”. He defined AQ as the measure of capability of an individual in facing difficult situations in life.
The four (4) dimensions of adversity quotient are:
- Control (level) of the problem / context
- Ownership (of the individual) over the situation
- Reach (extent) of the problem
- Endurance of the individual facing the problem
While it might not be correct to generalize, following may be some steps to foster adversity quotient while facing problems / difficulties in life:
- These must be an acknowledgement of the problem. Shying away or denial may not help; unless there is a realization that there is a problem / difficulty, there cannot be any solution.
- One needs to own up the problem. There is no point in blaming others for any problem / difficulty. This sense of ownership is extremely important.
- The difficulty needs to be analyzed / dissected at depth to find out controllable and non-controllable factors. Controllable are those on which we have control and therefore, these can be mitigated to some extent. Non-controllable factors are beyond our control, and we cannot do much.
- For the controllable factors, we need to chart a way / plan an action to take steps to mitigate them. Endeavour would be to tackle the controllable parameters by developing suitable skills / attitude. Since non-controllable factors are beyond our control, we need to find a way to live with them. Attitude of compromise, endurance, sense of detachment, philosophical way of looking at life, might help in this process.
Applications for Elderly:
The whole theory of adversity quotient and its application are extremely relevant to elderly. They are in such a stage of life where life is full of adversities. These adversities or problems could be in terms of age-related diseases, decline in cognitive abilities, anxiety arising out of less social connectedness, departure of partner or near colleagues, amidst similar other challenges. And to face these difficulties, they must have a high level of AQ. Elders with lesser AQ are likely to succumb to problems compared to those with relatively higher AQ level. Therefore, elders must endeavor to develop ability to counter the difficulties through inculcation of higher AQ.
Some of the techniques they can use to develop higher AQ include:
- Daily practice of mediation
- Maintaining a healthy body, agile mind, and high level of social connectedness
- Enhancement of will power through active learning of new hobbies like book reading, musical lessons, working with puzzles, etc.
- Developing a philosophical attitude towards life and its journey
- Being spiritually oriented
There are some distinct advantages of higher adversity quotient for an elderly. These include:
- Better control over adversities
- Control over negative emotions
- An innate capacity towards building positive attitude
- Better analytical mind
- Spiritual orientation
- Happy outlook towards life
Adversity quotient is an important trait every individual must inculcate as it enables him / her to fight adversities with grit, determination and come out successfully. It is more important for elderly as life at old age is relatively more faced with difficulties and challenges because of very nature of elderly life. It is therefore important for elderly to develop a relatively higher level of AQ. This will not only enable him / her to face the challenges and come out successfully but also enable him / her to equip with life skills to traverse life journey in a better and more conducive manner.
Dr A K Sen Gupta is the Co-Founder and Chief Trustee of My Retired Life Foundation (MRLF). This article has been published in Free Press Journal (FPJ) on 21st May 2022, where he is a regular contributor. Dr Sen Gupta was the Director of S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai, and Director & Mentor at SIES College of Management Studies, Navi Mumbai. He was a World Bank Consultant and instrumental in setting up the National Banking College in Ghana, Africa, and a Professor at the National Institute of Bank Management, Pune.