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Six Stressful Moments That Became Incredible Opportunities

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Your grandmother’s favorite cliché isn’t just the inspiration for Beyoncé’s best album. It’s also scientifically proven to be the best advice you ever got.

The American Psychological Association has poured gallons of time and money into studying the way hardiness helps us thrive, not just survive, even in the most stressful situations. After more than a decade of research, Dr. Salvatore R. Maddi, PhD, discovered that people who are able to turn trials into triumphs have three things in common: They’re committed, they maintain control and they see every challenge as an opportunity for growth.

Unlike natural optimism or Becky’s good hair, hardiness is something you can acquire. Dr. Maddi and his team at the University of Chicago have built a training program — a whole institute, actually — around teaching everyone from tots and teenagers to grown-ups like us how to be more resilient and adaptable to adversity, trauma and tragedy.

If you’re working on your resilience and need some real-life inspiration, here are six examples of hardy folks who turned stressful moments into their greatest successes.

Kerri Strug

The U.S. Women’s gymnastics team, dubbed the Magnificent Seven, was having a less-than-magnificent performance at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. It was the very last event, the vault, and the team’s gold medal hung in the balance.