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We Don’t Need a Lot of Self-Help Books, We Need Resilience

We Don’t Need a Lot of Self-Help Books, We Need Resilience

Have you ever noticed that some people are just really good at bouncing back? They roll with the punches life throws them with almost effortless ease. For years, I wondered what their secret was.

I’ve gone to hypnotherapists, looked into Buddhism, read through a frankly weird amount of self-help books (I think the people at my local library are a little concerned), all to little avail. I wondered if these people were unusually tough? Perhaps even unusually uncaring?

No, in the end these people who stand against adversity have resilience, nothing more.

The good news is, resilience can be learned and developed.

Surprisingly, there is no single agreed definition for resilience; however, in general resilience is that X factor that makes people keep going through adversity. To some degree, resiliency is a product of biological factors, or was formed in childhood when the brain was in development.[1]

A thirty year study followed 698 children for the first three decades of their lives.[2] During the study, particular attention was paid to reactions to trauma and stress. Two thirds came from comfortable, stable homes, and functioned generally okay.

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The other third were considered “at risk,” and had been exposed to unusual stress or difficulties in their home life. Two thirds of this group unfortunately grew up developing learning and behavioral issues. The remaining third, like the ones from safe, comfortable homes, grew up to be good, caring adults. They developed resilience.

The reasons for this were twofold:

  • Some of the “at risk” had access to a supportive caregiver who helped make sure they didn’t go through their problems alone.
  • Others were fiercely independent from a young age and went through their lives on their own terms.

Interestingly, some who initially weren’t resilient, later developed resiliency.

To develop resilience, you don’t really need to do the tough stuff.

So, what does it take to actually get some extra resilience? Well, here are four ways to build some up, and all of them involve finding peace in yourself.

1. Always look on the bright side, especially in stressful situations.

This is a key, underlining aspect to it all. It makes a lot of sense, because, for example, if someone were to react to a stressful event by thinking it was the worst thing in the world, it will seem as such. But were they to somehow remain positive, to see the silver lining in it, then it will seem less overwhelming, and as such they will be more resilient.

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So it is important to remain positive about the past, present and future.

In some of my experiments with Buddhism, I have been told that the world appears to us as we imagine it to be, and the real trauma is not the event itself, but our emotional reaction to the trauma (if you want the point backed up by Eastern spirituality).

2. Stay connected with someone supportive.

One unifying factor of the most resilient children in the study mentioned earlier is that they had a support structure. They had parents, guardians, or a teacher that had their back. Other reports and studies have suggested the same.[3]

All you need is someone who wants to see you succeed and is willing to help you do so. To children it can be a parent, guardian, or teacher. But for you, having a group of good friends is just as effective.

3. Do good to make people feel good.

Studies have shown that doing good increases production of Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, in the body.[4] Low levels of serotonin are often found in people suffering from depression.

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So, doing good makes you feel good.

Doing good can also help put things in perspective if you are faced with people who are suffering tougher challenges in their lives.

Some have also suggested making an effort to note when kindness is done to you, perhaps by creating a gratitude journal or blog.[5] People are more likely to remember when they have been mistreated, so having a reminder of the many times you have been treated well may help cancel out negativity.

4. Take very good care of yourself.

With this I don’t just mean keeping active and eating well (which can’t hurt), but paying attention to your mind. Stress can accumulate, which by extension can have a lasting impact on your mood and make you react severely to stressful situations, ultimately exacerbating them.[6]

A setback you might easily be able to take might knock you down if you already have a lot of stress in your life. To counter the effects of this cumulative stress, you should make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep and rest.

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Even when you are just relaxing, parts of your brain are working on overdrive, especially when stressed. Rest and sleep can counteract this.

Practicing all of the above could greatly improve your resilience and ability to stand tough against setbacks and trauma, as well as be better equipped to handle stress and feel good while doing so.

I’ll leave you with the last stanza of a poem: “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley.[7]

This poem was one that proved a great benefit to Nelson Mandela during his 25 years in prison, as well as me during much less inspiring stuff. The poem summarizes resilience in a nice way.

“It matters not how straight the gate
How charged with punishment the scroll
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul.”

Reference

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Arthur Peirce

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

Journal writing.

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Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this:

Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Kickstart Journaling

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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