Music and the Spoken Word: The traits of a survivor

Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast. This will be given Sept. 9, 2018.

We all have our share of difficulty and tragedy in life. Some of us, in fact, seem to have more than our share. And then there are people who somehow, against all odds, survive multiple seemingly impossible situations.

Challenges happen for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes they are the consequence of our own actions. Other times we are the victims of the poor choices of others. But most of the time, heartaches and adversities are thrust upon us randomly — accidents, illnesses, misfortune. No one is to blame; they just happen.

Regardless of their source, such hardship can either make us bitter or, in some cases, make us better. What makes the difference? Why do some people become angry and resentful after experiencing adversity, while others become more accepting, even forgiving? Of course, we can't see inside another person’s heart or pass judgment on his or her journey through life. But experts have observed that resilient people, "survivors," share certain traits: they are optimistic, selfless and spiritual, and they accept what can’t be changed (see Clare Ansberry, "After Tragedy, How Survivors Cope," Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2018).

One couple has survived decades of overwhelming challenges. They have joked that if they didn't have bad luck, they'd have no luck at all! But through it all — health problems, heartache, even the loss of several children — they have shown the traits of survivors. They try to look for the positive in every situation. They think about others more than themselves. They turn to God for peace and comfort. And they have learned to serenely accept that there are some things they simply cannot change.

In a sense, each of us is a survivor. We all have these traits inside of us to one degree or another. We may not know when the next challenge will come, but the best way to prepare to survive whatever life brings is to think positive, turn outward in selflessness, deepen our relationship with God and learn to accept what can't be changed. In other words, we can do our best to develop the traits of a survivor.

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM,, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143), and The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. MST on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed