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In a good way, so no negative connotations. The best way to explain it is using the saying: "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade". This person would make "lemonade" when life throws "lemons" at them. It's a good thing. Is there a word that specifically describes this?

Not optimistic.

I wanted to add that I've actually thought about this for days. The closest word I found was "can-do", meaning "confident and resourceful in the face of challenges". However, it's too informal for my purposes.

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5 Answers 5

One that came to me overnight — not an existing usage but I think it's good — is Oyster.

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Positive.

"tending towards progress or improvement; moving in a beneficial direction"

A positive person makes the best of a bad situation.

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equanimous.
unflappable.
stalwart.
unflenching.
bursting.
budding
blooming
growing
tackling
owning
bringing
pushing
ploughing through

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I notice that all your examples mention 'business'. Though the OP didn't ask for anything related to business, was there something in the question that made you feel that 'business' is necessary? –  Mitch Jan 10 '13 at 21:58
    
Thank you for voicing my thoughts. (And in case it isn't clear to anyone else, this has nothing to do with business.) –  Blue Jan 10 '13 at 22:01
    
I was assuming self improvement as a business man. But I guess its true you don't have to be a businessman to self-improve. –  RetroCoder Jan 10 '13 at 22:36
    
Not just to self-improve, but to achieve self-improvement by taking advantage of unfortunate circumstances –  Blue Jan 10 '13 at 22:44
    
owning is a good one b/c you own to self improve and you have to own something in order to take advantage of it even if its an unfortunate circumstance. –  RetroCoder Jan 10 '13 at 22:54

"Opportunist" fits the definition.

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Doesn't it have a negative connotation? –  Blue Jan 10 '13 at 21:55
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It has the connotation of doing something "with no regard for principles or consequences." That's pretty negative. –  Robusto Jan 10 '13 at 22:34
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Not necessarily negative, but having no care for whether or not the outcome is good or bad for anyone else. So negative or positive. I still don't think this is what the OP is looking for. –  cbbcbail Jan 10 '13 at 23:05
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I was aware that opportunist can be used negatively but surprised that the definition at dictionary.com included the sacrifice of ethical principles. However it also gave a definition from the World English Dictionary: "a person who adapts his actions, responses, etc, to take advantage of opportunities, circumstances, etc" which is exactly how I meant it. –  user24964 Jan 11 '13 at 1:02

Someone who is effective in a difficult situation is resourceful.

Someone who perseveres is steadfast or a stoic (or stoical).

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This is kind of a stupid question, but would it seem like I'm saying the person is using their unfortunate situation as a 'resource' for self-improvement? Because that just seems a bit weird. –  Blue Jan 10 '13 at 22:28
    
The word resourceful doesn't refer to use of resources. One meaning of resource is that it is an action that you can take in an emergency. It is something to which you resort. –  Kaz Jan 10 '13 at 22:48
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@Blue, the implication is more often that they are using their own innate resources. –  Jon Hanna Jan 11 '13 at 17:18

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