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Last Updated on February 8, 2018

How to Build Resilience to Survive in This Difficult World

How to Build Resilience to Survive in This Difficult World

Facing difficulties is all part of life. It can often feel like we face endless challenges instead of happy endings – when we overcome one challenge, another one rears its ugly head.

Some people I know grew stronger through these challenges, some became weaker and couldn’t see hope anymore.

Two friends of mine were made redundant from their job during the recent financial crisis: while one felt humiliated, lost confidence and therefore had difficulty finding a new job, the other analyzed the situation, spent time identifying his strengths, saw it as an opportunity for growth and found himself a senior manager role in a new company.

It’s not how many challenges we’ve been through that differentiate us, it’s how we see these challenges that matter.

It’s not just optimism. It’s resilience 

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    Photo credit: Source

    While optimism is a positive outlook defined as “the quality of being full of hope and emphasizing the good parts of a situation, or a belief that something good will happen”, there is a difference when it comes to resilience.

    Resilience is defined as “the quality of being able to return quickly to a previous good condition after problems.” In other words, it’s about moving on from a difficult situation without just emphasizing the positive parts and blindly believing that something good will happen. Instead it’s about seeing both sides, good and bad, being aware of the potential issues of the situation and taking action accordingly while keeping hope alive at the bases of it all.

    Resilient people never think they really fail

      Photo credit: Source

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      The only failure is when someone does nothing, doesn’t try and just wallows in the injustice of a situation. Failing 90 times, to a resilient person, means learning 90 lessons and it’s these so-called failures that contribute to ultimate success.

      Having the mindset that a so-called failure is a setback rather than a time for growth and redirection can be enough for us to give up. We’ve all experienced these and may well have given up on a dream or positive path as a result. But even though these failures can hit us hard, it’s actually just a symptom of big success because most of the huge successes in our life come from 80% failure and 20% intended outcome.

      This is how the 3.8 billion company succeeded

      Slack is a perfect example of resilient success. The $3.8 billion company failed massively before they succeeded. The CEO began spending 3 years building a revolutionary video game raising $17 million and recruiting over 40 staff without knowing if this would be a success. With staff moving across the country to get involved with the project, it was a gamble that initially didn’t pay off: with fierce competition, the company lost money and the team was laid off leaving a few to pick up the pieces.

      But instead of giving up at this massive hurdle and what many people would describe as a failed attempt, the CEO and remaining employees focused on their strengths to develop the chat system used by millions of people around the world and the rest is successful history.

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      Resilient people ride on their internal qualities, not external triggers

        Photo credit: Source

        It’s so easy to get affected by what’s going on around us and lose sight of the big picture. Resilient people know this very well. That’s why they work on their inner qualities which will save them when they get into difficulties.

        The success of Slack was built on the mindset that the external factors weren’t going to get in the way when the choice to keep going with the skills they were already good at would lead them to a better opportunity.

        So how can we make this important shift of focus to gain resilience?

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        Write down what is most important to you at critical moments

        Your why in any given moment or long term goal is important to create resilience and writing this down is what’s called value based affirmation. Many studies [1] have backed up the idea that intervening at crucial moments to write down what is most important to you increases long-term positivity.

        In suburban middle schools, minority students were found to perform worse than other students and were asked to reflect and write what was most important to them at the beginning of the school year and before exams. By doing this exercise, grade repetition amongst these students dropped from 18% to 5%.

        Value based affirmation helps to shift one’s negative mindsets and raises his self-worth. Remembering what is important, especially in challenging times, makes us see the bigger goal instead of the short-term difficulties and this is what makes us survive.

        Focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses

        Challenges tend to remind us of our weaknesses and cause us to dwell on them. People who are resilient tend to already be well aware of their weaknesses but they don’t spend time focusing on them or trying to improve them with too many efforts.

        Instead, they look towards their strengths and tune their direction accordingly when things appear to go wrong. Focusing on our strengths is how we acquire growth while focusing on our weaknesses only ultimately serves as a reminder of why we fail because of them. Resilience means knowing the best way to move forward in order to get ourselves back to a place of strength and we can’t do this if we allow our weaknesses to keep us down.

        Resilience isn’t something many of us are born with, it’s a skill that comes out of experiencing dark times and setbacks in life. It’s about developing the skill to see challenges differently and the skill to intentionally shift our focus and mindset to create a position in which we can take advantage of trying times.

        Reference

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        Leon Ho

        Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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        Last Updated on January 6, 2019

        Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

        Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

        No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

        People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

        But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

        If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

        Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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        Pain Is Our Guardian

        Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

        In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

        Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

        While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

        Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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        No Pain, No Happiness

        You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

        In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

        In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

        This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

        Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

        Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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        This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

        Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

        Allow Room for the Inevitable

        Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

        Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

        “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

        Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

        The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

        While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

        Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

        Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

        To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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        You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

        Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

        Reference

        [1]University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
        [2]Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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