This and other promising findings about the life-changing effects of crises are the province of the new science of post-traumatic growth. This fledgling field has already proved the truth of what once passed as bromide: What doesn't kill you can actually make you stronger. Post-traumatic stress is far from the only possible outcome. In the wake of even the most terrifying experiences, only a small proportion of adults become chronically troubled. More commonly, people rebound—or even eventually thrive.
Those who weather adversity well are living proof of one of the paradoxes of happiness: We need more than pleasure to live the best possible life. Our contemporary quest for happiness has shriveled to a hunt for bliss—a life protected from bad feelings, free from pain and confusion.