Updated: Oct 23
Resilience is defined as the ability to recover quickly from difficulties. A more scientific definition might be the ability to adapt and constructively harness the stress response. It is a capacity essential to both your physical and mental health (today is a great time to think holistically). Since setbacks are part of life, resilient people will feel better and make the most progress over time.
A person can boost his or her resilience. Drawing from current research, but without going into great detail, here are some strategies that can help you be more resilient:
Reinterpret negative events – Virtually any event can be interpreted in more than one way or from more than one perspective. Certainly with the passage of time we can see advantages that were not obvious in the moment. This is the skill of having perspective in the present moment.
Expect things to work out – Positive expectancy is a learned skill. This is related to optimism; its opposite could be despair. Our expectation in any situation is a choice and can be learned like any other skill. Remember that we tend to get what we think about, so if you think about positive outcomes they become more likely.
Enhance positive emotions – some of us have the unfortunate habit of dwelling on negative emotions or situations. We can learn to dwell on positive emotions just the same. If you think about this for even five minutes you can come up with 3 to 5 ways to enhance those positive moments (try it!).
Become physically fit – Well, it’s on almost every list including this one. Regular exercise both builds your self-confidence and enhances your mental state.
Accept new challenges – one of the best ways to build resilience is simply to practice by taking on new challenges. A new challenge opens up powerful pathways in your mind, helps you learn new skills, and opens options you may never have previously considered.
Be playful – In the movie “Elf” the character played by Will Ferrell has a childlike innocence and curiosity that makes him very resilient to difficult challenges. We likewise can retain our wonder by asking “What would a seven-year-old think of the situation?”
Maintaining a close social network – The research is clear that no matter how stressful our work situation talking with close friends and family diminishes the impact of difficulties and enhances our self-worth. Even with social distancing technology opens new avenues to connect. More traditionally, my wife and I recently took muffins to family members in the area. We put the muffins on the porch and rang the bell, stepped back 6 or 7 feet, and had a lovely conversation with each one.
See others with empathy – In the great book Crucial Conversations one of the first timeless points they make is to “start with heart”. Ask the question “why would an intelligent person do or say that?” This natural curiosity and generosity both helps you to communicate better and build resilience.
Imitate resilient role models – A great general strategy is to learn from people who are positive deviants. You probably know someone who has gone through great challenges in life with grace. If you haven’t already, have the conversation with them about how they have been so resilient.
Learn from life's experiences - Encouraging a curious nature, especially during more challenging times is most useful. The less useful but unfortunately more common questions during a crisis include, Why me? Why now? Why this? I encourage you to replace these victim questions with strong learning questions like, What lesson is there to learn here? Were there early cues that I might've missed?
Success in life is dependent upon my choices, not my circumstances. While some things take a long time to percolate and become a reality, many other things can happen in a single moment, the moment you make a decision. I hope one of these 10 ideas resonates with you and that you make a decision that will help you to be more resilient, today.
HVASF exists to reinforce intrinsic motivation, the foundations include self-efficacy, self-compassion, and self-esteem. I have created affirmations and related insights which you can learn more about on my website www.hvasf.com. More recently I have partnered with artists to create beautiful art and affirmations and placed them on useful things like cell phone covers, my shop can be found here hvasf.redbubble.com. Have a great day - and if you want to see posts and updates please check out my Facebook page, and if you think it could be a positive part of your life - like the page. :)