We often think of resilience as a manifestation of the human spirit's ability to survive the unfathomable -- those grand disasters and tragedies that populate news headlines and our social media feeds. It's as though we don't believe resilience could possible be at play in the midst of our own "mundane" life.
Resilience is the ability to absorb high levels of change, while maintaining your personal resourcefulness. It is more than stress management. Stress management is about 'managing' or getting rid of something that is negative (that you don't want). Developing or building resilience is more about creating something positive (that you want). Focusing on what you want to create provides you with opportunities and 'answers' that will not come to you when you focus on what you want to eliminate.
It's been shocking to watch news of the Brexit vote in Britain, Donald Trump's promise to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. and the ongoing threats and violence against ethnic minorities in many parts of the world. I'm not a political or social scientist, but my training as a biologist gives me some insight. Within ecosystems, species diversity provides greater flexibility to adjust to disturbances. Around the planet, ecosystem diversity has enabled life to flourish under different conditions.
Whether you are entering grade school, high school, college or university, this time of year can indeed bring conflicting emotions. You can start to positively impact your mental health right now, and every action you take to improve your mental health can positively impact your results (that includes your grades, your relationships and your overall sense of joy)!
Have you ever wondered what separates those rare individuals who are able to step forward after trauma and adversity from those of us who are stunted, derailed, or in some way consumed by similar life circumstances or events? As a society, we tend to gravitate to the "bounce back" narrative so often espoused in the media, and one that is particularly true of the stories most commonly shared on social media.
Wouldn't it be great if when people were wrong, they could just 'fess up, apologize and take different actions to move forward? Just imagine the increased opportunities of positive and productive workplaces. Call me a dreamer! Unfortunately, egos get in the way and fear stops us from acting on our healthier options.
Life can be beautiful, but occasionally it can also kick us in the teeth. We can experience loss, disappointment, adversity. Eventually, everyone has to face their fair share of pain. What makes the difference between someone who barely survives these challenges in life, and someone who meets these challenges head-on and thrives?
Twenty-five years ago I would have told you I was the luckiest woman in the world. I was married to my best friend who I adored and had two wonderful sons. I had it all including the home and picket fence. As it turned out, there was no luck in my marriage. The marital secrets he revealed crippled me emotionally for years after the breakup.
"It is what it is." That was the mantra of the women who shared their stories in One Red Lipstick, a book and documentary about the resilience of women. In each instance, life had dealt them a curveball, but instead of curling up in the fetal position, they just faced it head on and pragmatically carried on with their lives.