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Last Updated on April 22, 2020

What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important?

What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important?

Have you ever wondered why some people remain calm in the face of adversity, while others crumble?

People who are able to effectively navigate the highs and lows of life have what psychologists call resilience, or an ability to effectively bounce back from adversity.

Whenever you come across a difficult situation, you have two choices: you can either let your emotions get the best of you and become paralyzed by fear, or you can uplift yourself from the negative and transform pain into possibility.

I think we can all agree that life is a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. Even if you consider yourself to be a happy person, it is inevitable that you will encounter challenges at some point along your journey. These experiences may bend you, but they do not have to break you.

Building resilience is the key to turning challenges into successes.

Don’t get me wrong… being a resilient person is not an easy feat. However, I believe that all of us have the power to develop a resilient mindset; just like a muscle, it needs to be conditioned and strengthened every single day.

Sometimes it takes hitting your emotional threshold, which I like to call, rock bottom, before you are able to tap into your personal resilience. This is how I came to discover my strength.

What Is Resilience?

The construct of resilience has its roots in the field of developmental psychopathology during the 1970s. In the course of studying children with psychiatric disorders, psychiatrists and psychologists noted that a small number of children did not display the expected maladaptive behaviors.

Instead, they displayed behaviors that were within the normal range of social development.[1]

However, it was the studies of children of schizophrenic parents and the findings that some children thrived despite their high-risk status that led to the expansion of research on resilience. These included multiple adverse conditions, including socioeconomic disadvantage, parental mental illness, maltreatment, illness and catastrophic life events.

During the late 1980s and 1990s, research on resilience revealed it to be a much more ordinary phenomenon than it was first thought to be. The construct of resilience evolved to presume exposure to significant adversity.

Defining Resilience

To date, there is little consensus among researchers about the definition and meaning of the construct of resilience. In the last decade, the concept of resilience has shifted. It was once confined to a set of stable individual traits.

However, the concept shifted to an outcome and dynamic process, dependent upon interactions between individual and contextual variables, evolving over time.[2]

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Today, resilience is commonly referred to as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.[3] This definition captures the ‘bounce-back’ characteristic, which reflects one of the central characteristics of resilience.

The Importance of Resilience

Ever-increasing demands on time and energy have created an environment where people feel overwhelmed and unable to manage the high expectations of their daily lives.

As a result, people find themselves constantly multitasking, chronically distracted, and pulled in way too many different directions. If you want to stay at the top of your game in life and in work, it is imperative that you learn how to successfully navigate your way through the tough times.

In a study sponsored by Nationwide and Vodafone, nearly 100 percent of participants cited resilience as a factor in job success.[4] Numbers don’t lie. Resilience is the secret to success.

Here are four reasons why possessing resilience is a critical life-skill in today’s world:

1. Transform Failure Into Success

In my experience, the road to success is paved with a lot of failure. It’s a normal part of life. You cannot build resilience unless you are willing to fail. End of story.

When you mess up, you’ve got to get back up.

Those who are unable to bounce back from adversity end up internalizing failure and inevitably, giving up altogether. If you can relate to this way of thinking, it’s important to understand that failure is an event. It does not define who you are as a person.

Research shows that when you try, fail, try something else, fail, try again, and ultimately succeed, you get a nice kick from your dopaminergic reward system.[5] This is what gives you the momentum that you need when adversity hits you like a ton of bricks.

Failure is merely a steppingstone which everyone goes through on their path to greatness. You’ve got to ask yourself… are you willing to take bold risks in order to become the person you’ve always desired to be? If you don’t try, you will never know.

2. Develop an Internal Locus of Control

Do you believe that life happens for you or to you? In order for you to improve your happiness in any area of your life, you have to ask yourself the difficult question – “Who is responsible for my happiness?”

Your answer to this question will determine how effectively you are able to overcome challenges in life.

People who adopt an external locus of control struggle to bounce back from life’s blows. They believe that external forces determine the direction that their lives will take.

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Not surprisingly, this beliefs leave them feeling powerless. They play the victim in their life story, and trust me when I say that this is no way to live.

As researcher, Julian Rotter once said,

“Those who are passive about their well-being believe they have little or no control over their lives.”

If you ascribe to this way of living, the great news is that at any given moment, you can decide to change this pattern of conditioning.

Conversely, people with an internal locus of control see themselves as the CEO of their lives. They know that they are in control of every single decision that they make.

When they get knocked down, they are able to bounce forward, meaning that they are able to use life’s greatest adversities as springboards for success. When you do this, you become the driver of your destiny and resilience becomes your natural state of being.

3. Build Positive Beliefs

When your world comes crashing down on you, it’s easy to fall into negativity mode and play the ‘why me’ game. However, you cannot overcome challenges in life if you think that the Universe isn’t on your side. Negativity will get you nowhere in life.

Research shows that one major factor that contributes to resilience is the experience of harnessing positive emotions, even in the midst of an especially trying or stressful time.[6]

A resilient person works through challenges by harnessing the power of positive emotions. They are able to reframe adversity into something that is positive, which allows them to bounce back a lot quicker.

You will surprise yourself how much more calm you will feel in the face of adversity when you choose to be happy and optimistic.

4. Help You Embrace Change

At the heart of resilience lies a simple truth – change is inevitable. The reality is that we live in a world of constant change. In fact, uncertainty is the only certainty that we can count on.

People get into trouble when they ignore or resist change. As a result, they end up living a life of pain and suffering because they are unable to find comfort in the chaos.

You will not build resilience by hanging out in your comfort zone. The only way to truly grow and expand yourself is to break free from the chains of stability and dive into the unknown.

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Yes, this will be scary at first. It will require that you do some deep inner work, like shifting your limiting beliefs, breaking bad habits, and learning how to make friends with stress.

Let’s face it… nobody is excited to face their “stuff”, but it’s an integral step on the road to becoming a resilient person. In the words of Socrates,

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

When you master change, you master your life. Are you ready to jump on the change train?”

How I Discovered My Resilience

It wasn’t until I suffered two near-fatal car accidents that left me with a spinal cord and brain injury that my entire perspective on life changed.

I had hit rock bottom and it felt as if my life was crumbling before my eyes. The doctors told me that I may never walk again and that the best thing that I could do was to accept my new reality.

In that moment, I just wanted to give up, but I didn’t. In its simplest form, that’s what resilience is all about – choosing to keep going when every bone in your body tells you not to.

Rock bottom ended up being the foundation upon which I rebuilt my entire life.

From the traumatic events in my life, I discovered that there were recurring patterns of strategies that I used in order to be resilient. For example, I learned how to make friends with my pain and healed my emotional trauma through yoga, dance and meditation.

Despite my doctors orders, I continued my Psychology degree, while lying in bed with a back brace on for 6 months. I was determined to keep feeding my brain with new knowledge. Falling into depression wasn’t an option.

That being said, there were a lot of moments when I thought, “Why me?” or “Life isn’t fair.” However, through it all, my bounce-back ability remained strong.

I refused to define myself by my pain.

Instead, I took action to create a new reality for myself. It may not have been the reality that I asked for, but nevertheless, I made it work. I become a new version of myself, one that was stronger and more wiser.

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In the words of John Assaraf,

“No matter what your current circumstances are, if you can imagine something better for yourself, you can create it.”

I like to think of myself as a Resilience Junkie, a woman who is addicted to thriving through adversity.

Today, I am a resilience mastery coach. All along, my purpose was hidden within my wounds. I empower women to shift their lives from surviving to thriving so that they can master resilience in every dimension of their lives.

When you tap into your resilience and unleash your inner power, there is no challenge that you cannot conquer.

Final Thoughts

The next time that life throws you a curveball, trust that you are strong enough to stay in the game. Adversity may bend you, but don’t let it break you.

It doesn’t matter how many times that you fall. All that matters is that you get back up again and keep moving forward. In the words of the famous Japanese proverb,

“Fall seven times. Stand up eight.”

You’ve got this. Whatever you do, don’t give up. I am living proof that the comeback is always stronger than the setback.

Are you ready to live a more resilient life?

More Tips About Building Resilience

Featured photo credit: Brad Barmore via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ashley Elizabeth

Resilience Mastery Coach and Motivational Speaker

13 Things You Can Do to Build Emotional Resilience What Motivates You to Succeed in Life? 5 Powerful Tips for Overcoming Adversity 5 Reasons Why Keeping a Mood Journal Is Good For Your Mental Health 5 Simple Ways to Be Happy with Yourself Every Day

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

As human beings, one of our deepest-rooted desires is to have a meaningful and happy existence. You’ve probably heard of the saying, “Live your best life.” It’s good advice.

We all want to feel connected to both ourselves and others. We want to feel that we’re part of something important and that we’re making a difference in the world.

We want to look back at our lives and our achievements and be proud. In short, we want what the saying says: to live our best lives.

But what does it really mean to live your best life?

You are a unique individual, so living your best life is exclusive to you. Your best life will reflect your true values. It will be made up of what makes you happy and will be colored by what making a difference means to you.

What Stops You From Living Your Best Life?

While living your best life is all about you, what other people think can have an impact on your quest to live your best life.

Social media, for example, puts us under a lot of pressure. There are specific expectations of what “happy” looks like, and we’re under pressure to conform to what society expects.

For example, we are pressured to look a certain way, wear the “right” clothes, have exciting adventures with eye-catching friends, eat ethical and healthy food, and do charity work.

These are only a few of society’s expectations. It’s a long list.

Social media claims to connect us, but often it can do the opposite.

We can spend so much time worrying about what other people are doing, trying to live the life that society expects of us, that it can be easy to lose track of what makes us happy and what our best life actually looks like.

Start the Journey

What does it look like to live your best life? The following are some practical tips and tools to move from living your current life to living your best life.

1. Be the Best Version of Yourself

To live your best life, you must be the best version of yourself. Don’t try to be something or someone else. Don’t try to be what other people want you to be.

Focus on who you want to be. Play to your strengths and be proud of what makes you different. You are brilliant.

Gretchen Rubin, in her book Happiness Project, created her own commandments. The first one was “Be Gretchen.” This gave her permission to follow her gut feeling and make up her own rules.

For example, she stopped forcing herself to enjoy parties, cocktails, and fashion just because that’s what she thought society expected.

So, inspired by Gretchen, create your own commandment: “Be more YOU,” and remind yourself of this every day, unapologetically.

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2. Observe Yourself

To work out what the best you looks like, you must get to know yourself better. It’s your best life after all – not anyone else’s.

Start to notice how you respond to various situations. What are your habits? What makes you happy? What frustrates you? How do you behave under pressure? What gives you energy? What drains you?

Spend a week simply noticing. Write your observations down so you remember.

3. Identify Your Bad Habits

As part of your observations, start to notice your bad habits. Consider the things that don’t ultimately make you feel good.

Does scrolling mindlessly through Instagram make you happy? For 5 minutes, perhaps, but for longer?

That last glass of wine was delicious, but do you pay the price later?

That chocolate was enjoyable at the moment, but now that the sugar high is over, are you feeling regretful?

Observe yourself first. Then, start to deliberately do more of the things that make you happy and give you energy.

At the same time, work on reducing then eliminating the habits that squander your time, drain your energy, and ultimately don’t make you happy.

Need help conquering your bad habits? Read How to Break Bad Habits Once and For All.

4. Set Intentions

After having thought about what makes you happy and what drains your energy, focus on what living the best life looks like for you.

One of the keys to this is being intentional about it. When you deliberately set intentions, you are more likely to act with purpose and drive.

Setting intentions is different from setting goals. Goals are your list of things you want to achieve. You can set them daily, monthly, yearly, or a combination.

A common practice is to define goals and write them down. This makes them more tangible and makes you more accountable, therefore, making the goals more likely to happen.

The subtle yet important difference between goals and intentions is that when setting intentions, you decide what kind of positive feelings and emotions you are seeking.

For example, “This week, my intention is to approach my admin tasks with gusto in order to complete them more quickly.”

Intentions can be more motivating than goals because if you don’t achieve your goal, it can feel like a failure and can ultimately hold you back.

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If you don’t achieve your intention to approach something in a specific way, you can more easily regroup and have another try.

Write down your intentions every month, week, or day, using whichever time frame works best for you.

For example, “I intend to enjoy going swimming three times this week” or “I intend to assertively build my network in my local area this month.”

Setting intentions gives you something to focus on, and it also helps to manage the feeling of being overwhelmed that often happens when we set ourselves goals.

5. Visualize Living Your Best Life

Visualization can help you to cement your intentions. It involves visualizing how it would feel to live your best life once you achieve it.

It can help you to further establish what you want and allow you to settle into a positive mindset.

To visualize, first choose your focus. Choose a specific intention and how you will feel once it is accomplished. Then, take the time to daydream and allow your imagination to wander.

For example, if your intention is going swimming three times a week, imagine what you will look and feel like:

  • What will you wear?
  • How do you get there?
  • What time of day do you go?
  • How do you feel when you’re in the water?
  • How do you feel afterward?

Ask yourself these little questions and allow yourself to feel the same feelings you would feel if you were currently fulfilling your intention.

10 Ways to Live Your Best Life

Now that you’ve decided and visualized what your best life looks like, let’s look at some more practical steps you can take to achieve it.

1. Focus

Whatever you do, focus. If you swim, swim. If you study, study. Multitasking is a myth. It’s not possible to do more than one thing at a time well. Focused work is the least tiresome and the most productive type of work.

Michael LeBouf, the author of The Millionaire in You, said,

“Winners focus, losers spray.”

2. Take Responsibility for Taking Action

Taking action can feel scary. We fear failure, but we can also fear success. It can be easy to feel too busy to achieve your intentions.

However, you have the choice to take action and live your best life or stay the same. It’s up to you, so take responsibility to take action.

3. Live in the Present

Every day is a new opportunity to live your best life. We so often get stuck because we put things off.

We can think, “When I’ve lost 10 lbs I’ll go swimming,” or “When I feel more confident I’ll look for a new job,” or “When I get my new running shoes I’ll start running.”

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How about starting from where you are? How about using what you already have?

We often put off taking action until we have the newest phone/camera/game/course/book/shoes as if they are the keys to happiness. In the process, we forget about what we already have.

Grab the camera that you have, put on your old running shoes. Go and do something interesting today with what you’ve got. Fancier gadgets, better clothes, or a slimmer body won’t make you better.

Action will.

4. Declutter

This applies to the environment you live in as well as the people you spend time with. Use Marie Kondo’s decluttering method of asking, “Does it bring you joy?”[1]

If your answer is yes, you keep the item. If you hesitate or say no, you donate it or throw it out. Simple.

This also applies to people. If there are people in your life that make you feel bad, drain your energy, and don’t bring you joy, let go of them.

Instead, spend time with the people and activities that give you energy and make you feel good.

5. Relish the Simple Things

When we’re busy, we can forget to appreciate what we have. Take time to focus on the simple things. Even when you’re feeling low, there’s always something to be grateful for.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.[2] Be deliberate in being grateful for what you do have, rather than resentful of what you don’t.

6. Journaling

Journaling

is simply writing your thoughts down.

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, writing your thoughts and feelings down on paper not only helps you get your thoughts in order, but it can also help ease symptoms of depression and manage stress and anxiety.[3]

In the chaos of life, it is easy to overthink, feel anxious, or not appreciate what you do have. Journaling can help you manage your thoughts and feelings and productively cope with life.

Be curious and keep learning. Ask more questions and keep pushing yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and learn.

What are you interested in or curious about? Perhaps it’s learning more about where you live, or reading up on a particular topic? Maybe it’s traveling to a new town or country?

According to Dan Pink’s research, learning is a key motivator.[4] Whether you feel like you’ve gotten stuck in a boring routine or you’re stressed by the tasks of daily life, learning something new is a way to step outside yourself and your comfort zone.

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Create a bucket list of all the things you’d like to do and learn and the places you’d like to go to, and start ticking them off.

7. Make Someone’s Day

Being kind to others makes them feel good, and it also releases chemicals in your body that make you feel good. Think about a time you gave someone a gift that they loved. How did you feel?

You don’t have to start giving people gifts to make someone’s day. Think about small, thoughtful gestures: a genuine compliment, opening the door, offering to help someone.

All these things can make a big difference in someone’s day.

8. Look After Your Body

Eat what nourishes you, including plenty of vegetables and fruit and food that’s natural and unprocessed. Drink plenty of water.

Exercise because you like it, not because you’re supposed to go to the gym.

Reject the idea that you have to push yourself really hard at exercise, and instead try out a variety of things – for example, walking the dog, gardening, yoga, swimming, or dancing.

Find what you enjoy. When you enjoy something, you’ll be motivated to do it more.

Get good rest! We’re all different in terms of the amount of sleep that we need. However, most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep.

If you’re not getting that much, then check out healthy sleep tips from the Sleep Foundation.[5]

More tips for staying healthy: Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You.

9. Manage Your Inner Critic

Most people have an inner critic that tells them they are not good enough, that they’re a fraud, and that they are going to be found out.

This happens especially when we step out of our comfort zone and change things. If you are living your best life, your inner critic likes to jeopardize that.

The next time it appears, acknowledge what’s happening and call it out. Whatever it is telling you, list all the reasons it’s wrong.

10. Be Prepared to Change the Plan

You may have set intentions to live your best life. However, life is not linear, nor does it work in lists. You must expect to be flexible and change the plan as life throws things at you.

The end game remains the same: to live your best life. It’s just the route to get there that will inevitably change.

Conclusion

Live each day like it counts, and remember, it’s your choice. Your best life is unique to you. Don’t compare yourself to others – focus on living your best life, and enjoy the learning, exploration, and experiences along the way.

More Tips on How You Can Live Your Best Life

Featured photo credit: Juliana Malta via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Kon Mari: Tidy your space, transform your life
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: In Praise of Gratitude
[3] University of Rochester Medical Center: Journaling for Mental Health
[4] Daniel H. Pink: Dan Pink on Motivation
[5] Sleep Foundation: Healthy Sleep Tips

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