Life isn’t easy. Sometimes scars run deep. People we love die. Family, friends and coworkers say and do cruel things. Not everything we want to happen in life, does and often things we don’t want to happen, do. We all have our share of heartache; things that make us question who we are and what we want from life. Things that leave us stuck.
Yet some individuals muster the strength to push through. They’re able to rise above life’s challenges rather than sink. How?
The answer is RESILIENCE. These individuals have the ability to bounce back from setbacks to live happier, purpose filled lives. It’s something we all aspire to and often all we need is the right mindset. So here are ten ways to build resilience and live happier, fuller lives.
1. Develop a more positive attitude
This doesn’t mean ignoring the pain or denying the problem, it means choosing to be optimistic, choosing to look for the good in each and every situation. This is hard in the moment. We all need a good cry and plenty of time to grieve life’s disappointments, but don’t dwell there forever. Choose to see setbacks as isolated incidents. Choose to not beat yourself up—the world is not out to get us even though it often feels that way.
Instead, think three positives for every negative. Choose to be with positive people who encourage and inspire you, who appreciate and understand the depths of your soul.
2. Embrace change
Don’t be afraid to mix things up: get a new haircut, redecorate a room in the house, try a new hobby, travel, learn a new language, visit a different museum or restaurant, switch out the same ‘ole Starbucks drink for a new one. The point is, live. Try new things. Allow yourself to be open and willing to new people, new ideas, and new adventures. The less resistant we are to change, the easier it becomes when something unexpected shatters our lives—and it will. Life is full of change. Expect it. Welcome it. Don’t let a fear of change numb all the good life has to offer.
3. Face problems head on
Denial leads to hopelessness whereas problem solving leads to solutions and helps us feel a sense of control. Take time to reflect and then brainstorm a list of solutions. Be creative. Find more than one. Ask others for help, preferably people who have been in the same situation or who know you well. Allow yourself to be practical and impractical before narrowing solutions down. Then Act.
Remember: it’s your choice to stay in a miserable situation. Don’t just pretend the problem isn’t there. Do something.
And for problems that don’t seem to have a solution. Reflect. Pray. Meditate. There are some problems we cannot fix. Some things we cannot change. Some wounds that will not heal. Sometimes, all we need is time. And an ability to press on in spite of it all.
4. Forgive yourself
Shame kills joy. We all make mistakes. Rather than destroying your future with your past, give yourself grace. Who you were. What you’ve done. It’s history. Don’t let it rob you of your life. Don’t give it power. Ask for forgiveness and let it go. You deserve grace and compassion. Believe that. Believe you are worthy. Beating yourself up year after year doesn’t change the past nor does it heal you. Learn from your mistakes. Encourage others. Only then can you truly be free.
5. Pursue your dreams
Learn what excites you, what motivates you, and go after it. Set short and long term goals. Make a plan. Put it on the calendar. Stay focused. Following our dreams builds confidence and provides a sense of purpose. If you’re unsure what enlivens you, see a career counselor. Determine your interests and skills. What makes you smile? What makes you feel alive? Don’t sit around waiting for your dreams to find you. Work toward them. Take action. A step forward is always closer to your dreams than no step. And when roadblocks slow you down, which they will—fight. Work hard and don’t give up. Nothing worth having ever comes easy.
6. Seek support from someone you trust
Sometimes life is just too hard, far too messy to take on alone. We all need an extra shoulder to cry on, someone we can rely on, who will help us see through our fog. We all need someone who understands us, who won’t judge us, who will help us succeed at life. Whether it’s a friend, family member, pastor, or therapist, find a person who’s been there, who can help you feel less alone. They’ll equip you with tools to achieve your goals and face adversity.
7. Make yourself a priority
Exercise. Eat healthy. Dance. Take nature walks. Paint. Whatever lifts you out of the fog, do it. All these activities will help boost energy and self-esteem. Get a good night’s sleep. Enjoy a bubble bath. Get a massage. Read a favorite book. Whatever it may be, make it a priority. If we expect to take on life’s challenges, we’ve got to build ourselves up, spoil ourselves, show ourselves some compassion. Taking care of oneself, nurturing one’s soul, will boost confidence and ready us for whatever challenges life brings.
8. Laugh often
Laughter really is the best medicine. When times get tough—laugh! It helps us gain perspective. Breaks us free from our prison of despair. Watch a funny show. Read a comic. Hang out with friends who make you laugh, who’ll help you not take yourself so seriously.
9. Show yourself love
Our perception of ourselves, positive or negative, determines our behavior. If we believe we are unworthy, we act that way. But who we are is not determined by others. It is determined by us, by our own inner thoughts. We alone destroy ourselves— from within. With lies we tell ourselves. With past pain and words that echo through our mind.
So be compassionate. Each morning, look in the mirror and give praise. Say three positive truths. Force yourself to do it even if it seems cheesy. The world is not always kind; if we depend on others for approval, we’ll be waiting a long time.
10. Don’t compete with others
We run our own race. It’s that simple.
Look for self-improvements. Set new goals. Dwell on your accomplishments. If we’re always striving to beat So and So, we risk losing ourselves. Comparing our life to others never brings happiness or contentment. We’ll only feel more out of control. There will always be someone richer, prettier, smarter, more athletic, healthier, etc. so the only person we should compete with is our past self.
Life isn’t always going to go our way and that’s okay, it’s what makes life exciting. But If we love and take care of ourselves, if we pursue our dreams, if we laugh, and focus on the positives, and if we seek solutions–we will be resilient. Life can throw anything at us and we’ll be ready. We’ll rise, even if it’s an inch by inch crawl out of our pain to be happier, more complete, people than we ever were before.
Featured photo credit: Happiness is excitement/Nancy Kellan via flickr.com