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Overcome Adversity and Face Uncertainty with Dr. Meg Jay (ep. 538)

Dr. Meg Jay

John O’Leary welcomes clinical psychologist Dr. Meg Jay on the Live Inspired Podcast to discuss overcoming adversity and facing uncertainty.

Adversity is much more common than we think. And yet, so is resilience, strength and tenacity.

Dr. Meg Jay is a clinical psychologist and author of The Defining Decade and Superhuman. Specializing in adult development and in twentysomethings in particular, Meg joins us to explain our ability to overcome adversity, the power of being a support for others, and the courage to rise up above one’s circumstances.

Whether you’re entering your 20s or the backside of your 70s, this conversation will empower you to face life’s uncertainties and its complex challenges.

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  • Education is an intervention. While a clinical psychologist, Meg finds that she’s helped more people through educating and teaching others than her therapy practice.
  • With more than 10 million views, Meg’s TedTalk gives advice for how twenty-somethings can re-claim adulthood in the defining decade of their lives. Watch it here.
  • Eighty percent of defining moments in your life happen before you turn 35 years old. Although the average age of “adult milestones” (marriage, children, homeownership, etc.) have crept upwards, Meg believes that by taking your 20s seriously, you’re able to enter life’s biggest decisions more thoughtfully, intentionally and purposefully.
  • Facing the uncertainty of what’s to come: The things that make us feel happy, healthy and emotionally stable, most 20-somethings don’t have. This is uncertainty was felt by many outside of their 20s during the pandemic.
  • “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” — Napoleon Hill
  • “Forward thinking doesn’t come with age. It comes with practice and experience.”
  • Especially in uncertain situations, humans tend to fall into “catastrophic thinking” which Meg tries to counter with forward thinking.
  • Before social media, Stanford sociologist Mark Granovetter researched the power of our social networks and how the “weak ties” or those in outside of our inner circles provide a fresh perspective, opportunity or connection. Read The Strength of Weak Ties here.
  • “There is no hierarchy of trauma. It’s difficult to compare one person’s life, hardship and support system with another’s.” Early adversity is more common that we realize, and Meg reminds us that it has the opportunity to unite instead of divide.
  • After experiencing ACE, or adverse childhood experiences, having happy and healthy relationships as an adult is not only redemptive but healing by calming down the brain and body.
  • Be a lighthouse for others: “Less predictive of how much adversity affects you is how ‘bad’ the adversity was and more predictive is how alone did you feel.”
  • “Our brains are wired to keep us alive — not happy.”
  • “Resilience is less about who you are and much more about what you do.”
  • “In the long run, what goes right matter more than what goes wrong.”

Did you enjoy today’s episode?

You’ll love our Sports and Athletes playlist. Including NASCAR legend Kyle Petty, six-time Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and many more, this playlist will inspire you to step off the sideline + get back into the game of life. Listen to the Sports and Athletes playlist now.


About our sponsor: Keeley Companies wholeheartedly believes that if you get the people right -the results will follow. They set themselves apart with a forward-thinking culture that empowers their people and fosters loyal partnerships. Keeley Companies are a proud sponsor, partner, and super fan of the Live Inspired Podcast. Learn more about Keeley Companies.



  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
    A. Dao Di Jing by Laozi.
  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. A ballet dancer.
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. My wedding ring which was my grandmothers, so I'm already wearing it.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. My grandmother and one of my old teachers that I still think about. It's people who've made a difference for me who I wish I could still see.
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. My life is what I make of it.
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. Understand sooner the importance of taking ownership of your life.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. Education is the intervention.