“A good half of the art of living is resilience.”
– Alain de Botton
The human spirit is incredible. Our will to persevere through adversity and seek fulfillment is inspiring. Personal resilience is more than strength, it’s the determination to recover from hardship and seek personal growth through learning. Our capacity to be strong in the midst of a crisis can be enhanced with some basic preparation, as can our ability to recover and achieve personal growth from life’s challenges.
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
― Maya Angelou
Everyone has setbacks in life. Some are small but feel significant at the time, some are massive and independently overwhelming, and then there can be an accumulation of events that is crushing. These situations erode our levels of reserve — the amount of fuel we have in the tank. Our ability to withstand life’s challenges is dependent on a balance of health factors. Imagine that your resilience is a four-legged table with one leg each corresponding to your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Also integral to the structure is the tabletop, which connects everything and makes the table functional. It’s analogous to our social network and support, which ties together our other health dimensions through good times and bad times. And with a four-legged table, if one of those legs is short, weak, or even missing, the table will stand until the right amount of pressure is applied in the right place, then the table will tip or even fall over. That’s what happens when we are stressed. Our resilience is tied to how well we built up the five elements of our humanity: mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and social.
Whether you want to improve your reserves now or prepare yourself for future challenges, your journey towards resilience can start with these three basic things. Try doing them for a week and then see if you can build them into habits.
- Mindfulness. Take some time each day to live in the moment. Anxiety resides in the future, depression comes from the past. Do something each day that has you focus on your senses and puts you completely in the present, such as appreciating nature or art, playing music, or meditation. You don’t have to do it for long to replenish your reserves. Start with a few minutes and experiment with different approaches.
- Activity. Good physical health contributes to your ability to maintain your reserves in times of crisis. It doesn’t need to be a complicated exercise program. It can be as simple as going for a walk three times a week, and you can combine it with mindfulness. For example, I walk my dog each morning and take a few pauses to appreciate something from each one of my senses. It puts me in the moment. Another option is to combine your activity with socialization, which is the third thing to consider.
- Prioritize good relationships. We are inherently social creatures and quickly become unhealthy without human interaction. Investing in productive relationships not only fulfills our daily needs, but it’s also an integral part of enduring our greatest challenges. It is not about finding people who agree with you, it is about bonding with people who care about you. You can turn your activity into some social time, as long as you can still dedicate your attention to the person you are with. Regardless of how you choose to approach it, do something every day to meaningfully connect with someone who cares about you.
“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
― Nelson Mandela
Even the most successful people have had failures, and all of us are confronted with personal struggles. You are resilient, and you can be even better prepared for life’s challenges by starting your journey with these habits.
Gasparotto Group can help you start a journey to optimize personal resilience in your company and prepare your leaders to be at the top of their game.
Written by Paul Kernaghan
Gasparotto Group helps organizations create cultures that develop highly effective leaders and build strong, resilient teams.