Wales has had its fair share of setbacks over the centuries - not least on the battlefield and the rugby pitch.
Welsh rugby has suffered many knocks
But Professor Jane Aaron, of the University of Glamorgan, has a theory on why the Welsh seem to respond to adversity with an extra effort.
Prof Aaron says the Welsh have what might be likened to a survival gene - a setback prompts a renewed burst of creative energy.
Her findings will be outlined in the Institute of Welsh Affairs lecture at the National Eisteddfod in Powys on Tuesday.
The event is the highlight of the Welsh cultural year.
Prof Aaron said: "Whenever Welsh identity appears to be most under threat, an in-built survival gene is triggered that responds with a burst of new creative activity, often in a different direction from before."
'Don't ape England'
Examples she cites include the violent death of Llywelyn the last prince of Wales at Cilmeri in 1282 which was followed by a golden age of Welsh poetry.
The Welsh rugby team had a terrible season in 1999 - but a last-minute try against England that year denied the English the Five Nations Championship.
Prof Aaron also claimed devolution was voted in after the threat to Welsh identity by the Thatcher government years, when the bulk of the Welsh coal industry disappeared.
Even so Prof Aaron warned of the danger of living from crisis to crisis, counting on the survival gene to save the day.
She suggested harnessing the creative energies which were released when under threat.
Welsh people needed to be more fully informed about their own history and culture, in both languages, she said.
She urged the nation to stop "aping England" and try to forge its own cultural identity.