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We all know the saying, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” but is that really true? After all, for some people, traumatic experiences ultimately lead to truly debilitating outcomes. For others, though, adversity really does seem to lead to “post-traumatic growth,” where individuals move through suffering and find their lives changed in positive ways as a result. Why does this growth happen for some people and not others? How exactly does it happen? Can the positive results be purposefully replicated?

These are the central questions of a new study conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Virginia. They share their findings, along with practical advice and inspiring stories, in their new book Choosing Wisdom and the companion PBS documentary of the same name. Based on interviews with two distinct populations—medical patients coping with chronic pain and physicians coping with having been involved in serious medical errors—Choosing Wisdom delves into how average people respond to adversity, how they change, and what factors help or hinder positive change. Through these interviews, the authors chart each person’s journey, and though the circumstances of each case may be unique, the commonalities are remarkable.

By paying careful attention to the journeys of these exemplars, this cutting-edge research will shed new light on how we can grow, change, and develop wisdom through adversity. It will be a welcome source of inspiration for anyone facing their own difficult journey and for those who seek to aid them along the way.

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Requesting an Exam Copy

Exam copies are sent to professors who would like to review the book before deciding whether to use it in a class. To request an exam copy, you must fill out the form below. It will automatically be sent to a staff member.

In our efforts to stay green, reduce expenses, and maintain scholarly accessibility, we are sending examination copies as electronic downloads in the Adobe Digital Edition format for a 90-day review period. If you have any trouble accessing the book in this format, please contact us and we will send a traditional copy of the book instead.

If you chose to review the electronic version of the book and adopt the book for one of your courses, upon notification by you or your bookstore, a traditional bound book will be sent to you free of charge.

Requesting a Desk Copy

Desk copies are complimentary books sent to professors who have already adopted the book for a course. To request a desk copy, please fill out the form below. It will automatically be sent to a staff member.

Proceed to Form

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Acknowledgments / vii

Part One: Background

Chapter 1: Introduction / 3

Chapter 2: What Is Wisdom? / 11

Chapter 3: Posttraumatic Growth / 27

Part Two: The Path through Adversity

Chapter 4: Acceptance / 43

Chapter 5: Stepping In / 59

Chapter 6: Integration / 77

Chapter 7: New Narrative / 97

Chapter 8: Wisdom / 115

Part Three: What Helps: Sage Advice from the Field

Chapter 9: Finding Community / 137

Chapter 10: Gratitude and Compassion / 151

Chapter 11: Quiet Refl ection, Meditation, and Mindfulness / 165

Chapter 12: Doing Something 181

Chapter 13: Spirituality, Forgiveness, and Doing the Right Thing / 197

Chapter 14: Choosing Wisdom / 215

Questions for Reflection and Discussion / 221

References / 229

Index / 241

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