Resilience, in the Face of Life's Inevitable ChallengesJuly 28, 2020
The economic expansion that began in June 2009, and endured for more than 100 months, ended at the hands of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, in the wake of the longest economic expansion on record, we face yet another of life’s inevitable challenges. People everywhere are looking to their leaders—political leaders at every level of government, company leaders and even the leaders within our own families—for signs of resilience.
Resilience, by definition, is the capacity to cope with stress and adversity. It comes from believing in yourself and, at the same time, in something bigger than yourself.
In her recent book, “10 Ways to Build Your Resilience,” educational psychologist and author Kendra Cherry notes that resilient people tend to maintain a more positive outlook, and have learned to effectively cope with stress. The key word here is “learned,” because, as Cherry professes in her book, resilience is not a trait that people are born with. Rather, it involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.
Another way to look at resilience can be found in this famous quote from Albert Einstein: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
So, as we struggle to maintain our resilience during these challenging times, let us all focus on, and work continuously to improve on, some of the lessons Cherry preaches in her book. Among them:
- Believe in your abilities—Cherry says that “research has demonstrated that your self-esteem plays an important role in coping with stress and recovering from difficult events. Remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments.”
- Be optimistic—Master your emotions before they manage you. “Resilient people have a positive outlook,” Cherry says. “They remind themselves that much of what they’re facing is temporary, and that they’ve overcome setbacks before and can do it again.”
- Nurture Yourself—Taking care of your own needs will help boost your overall health and resilience, preparing you to face the challenges ahead.
- Take action—Resilience will result by actively taking steps to gain control over your challenges. “Rather than just waiting for things to happen, being proactive allows you to help make your goals a reality,” says Cherry.
- Keep working on your skills—The older I get, the more I come to realize that life does not get easier or more forgiving. Coping requires additional resilience. Says Cherry: “Resilient people are constantly becoming braver and more courageous. They know that life is not what happens to us but what we make happen.”