LIFE is like a roller coaster - at times you will reach dizzy heights because of your accomplishments and at other times you will feel your heart sink and your stomach churn because of disappointment or grief.

I love getting to the top of a roller coaster. I enjoy the view and feel a bit proud of myself for getting on the thing in the first place.

But I hate what comes next. The sickening feeling of dropping and departing from any sense of safety and comfort is unnerving.

Until recently, this has not been too dissimilar to my life. I have loved the high points and abhorred the low points.

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But I don't think this is a wholesome way of living.

Thankfully, I am studying well-being and happiness, and how to live a good life.

I am learning that without the low points, you often cannot appreciate the highs, just as you would never reach the peaks on a roller coaster if you did not go down first.

I am learning that every experience can be valuable and teach us a lesson - if we have the right mindset.

My friend recently posted this story on Facebook - from the website www.upmoments.com - and it caught my attention in such a big way that I wanted to share it.

A young woman told her mother about her life and how things were so hard for her. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen and filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second eggs, and in the last ground coffee beans. She let them boil for about 20 minutes, then turned off the burners. She fished the carrots t and eggs out and placed them in separate bowls. Then she ladled the coffee into a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked: "Tell me what you see?"

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"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," was the reply.

Her mother asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted they were soft. The mother asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich flavour, then asked: "What does it mean, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting in the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a break-up, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water - the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavour.

If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

I love this story, it has helped me rethink setback, disappointment and struggle. I hope it does the same for you.

A registered psychologist with a masters in applied psychology, Wanganui mother-of-two Kristen Hamling is studying for a PhD in well-being at Auckland University of Technology.