Dr Thanh-Tam Pham - 25/10/2020


Adaptation is the ability to adjust to new information, experiences and environment. Life is ever-changing and those who can adapt successfully to changes will succeed and survive.


Biological adaptation

Adaptation is the evolutionary process where an organism becomes better suited to its habitat.

Some traits can be passed down from one generation to the next that allow organisms to adapt to the new environment better than other organisms of the same species and to improve the chance of survival.

Some examples are:

-Camouflage helps an animal to survive and to avoid detection by predators.

-Some of the adaptation behaviours of animals are hibernation, bird migration…

-Human adaptation to ultraviolet light is skin colour, with dark colour to protect from sunlight and light skin to permit the production of vitamin D in countries without much sunlight.

-People with alpha thalassemia trait have a protection against malaria infection.

-If humans move to a higher altitude, initially physical exertion can be a problem due to the lower partial pressure of Oxygen but after spending some time there, the body will adapt and produce more red blood cells to transport oxygen in the blood.


Adaptation in life

Why some of us cope so well with life while others in similar conditions cope badly or not at all?

The nature of life is impermanent that is constantly changing. Through adaptation, we are able to develop new behaviour, new skills to allow us to cope with changes. We cannot avoid the unexpected events or crisis in our lives but we can change our reaction to these events and consider them as an opportunity for us to learn and grow. Our resilience in life can get stronger when we embrace change and manage these challenges in a positive way.

The more we resist changes, the harder our life becomes. People who are too attached with the current situation and cannot accept change, can get depressed and have mental breakdown.  We cannot avoid the unexpected events such as loss of jobs, bankruptcy, Covid 19 lock down… in our lives.  These events challenge us and force us to come out of our comfort zone.  If we break down and cannot accept the reality, we deny ourselves the opportunity to learn and overcome these adverse events.

What qualities we must possess to adapt and survive in any situation?

1-   Psychological flexibility:

We must be flexible in our mind and accept any changes or challenges in life.  We must not be emotionally attached and be able to deal with emotions arising from the loss of our comfort life such as anxiety and depression.

We must have the ability to incorporate different thinking strategies, new ideas to plan and manage what is needed to move forward.

We have to see change as an opportunity to develop our ability for problem solving rather than as a threat or danger.

2-   Have courage and energy:

Embracing changes is to step into the unknown and we must possess enough courage and energy to conquer our fear and adapt to the new situation. We must not be afraid to experiment new pathways, new techniques or new ideas. Even if we are faced with failure, we must see it as a lesson to be learned and an experience we are gaining.

3-   Being mindful about the new situation:

We have to be able to analyse the change objectively without putting our own emotional subjective interpretation. We have to see the reality as it is, to be able to make the right decisions or choices to adapt to the challenge and achieve success. For example, if we are in charge of a business, we must be able to read and act on the market signals to attain adaptive advantage and able to diversify the production to be able to take advantage of new trends in the society.


In summary, we cannot control the events or changes in our lives but we can control how we react to the impact that these adverse events have on our lives. Life is constantly changing and if we accept that fact happily, we can make good progress in our learning curve and attain success and wisdom.