ROCHESTER, Minn. -- The path to success isn’t straight up. If today feels like a step back, consider that it may well be the safest and quickest path to climb higher.

A skilled climber who has scaled many mountains knows that you have to pause and take steps back to avoid treacherous terrains in many climbs.

Helen Keller had a rough start with her teacher Anne Sullivan. Keller would have outbursts of frustration. It took many tries until one day, Keller had a breakthrough. She figured out that the word water spelled on her hand conveyed her feeling cool water.

If Sullivan and Keller had given up in the first few weeks, the world would have missed learning from Keller’s brilliance and Sullivan’s patience.

Failed projects, broken relationships, financial losses — they all hurt. Even a missed flight feels painful. But it helps to believe that these setbacks may be things to help you move forward. Often, that is how it plays out over time.

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I know two people who are alive today because they missed their flight. They were very upset when they missed their flight, only to realize two hours later, how lucky they were to be alive.

That experience changed their lives. However, we often don’t get to know how adversity prevented a catastrophe. It just helps to keep the faith during difficult times that someone is looking out for us.

Think of a few ways recent adversity or a step back may have helped you. It will empower you to feel strong and less fearful.

Dr. Amit Sood answers questions about stress, resilience, happiness, relationships and related topics in his column. Email dearfriend@postbulletin.com.