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Resilience: The Key to Surviving Anything

Resilience: The Key to Surviving Anything

    Have you ever seen bamboo shoots in a storm? I have. I remember huddling in a hut in Thailand watching a raging typhoon sweep through the mountains. The clump of bamboo outside the window was completely flattened by the raging winds. The wind was so strong that it lifted the roof right off the hut and I began to fear for my life. Then, suddenly, the winds dropped. I looked out and saw the bamboo shoots rise up again unharmed. That’s resilience. It’s the most important thing we can cultivate in these uncertain days.

    The global financial melt-down is creating hardship for many people. Maybe you too have some fears about how your life and that of your loved ones is going to be in the future? And it’s not only financial problems that we can suffer from. Health problems, or we can lose a loved one. Or we can suddenly be faced with unemployment.

    I myself lost a lot of money when a rogue builder decamped to a South Sea Island with the money that I had paid him to build a new house. In the end the half-built structure had to be sold at a great loss. This experience made me think about how we can overcome difficulties. What I learned was that my life started getting back on track the moment I started accepting that my life had changed for ever.

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    I learned that there are ways of responding to life that make it easier to regain control and find ongoing happiness. One of the ways that we can do that is to become more accepting and thus more resilient.

    Resilience helps us to overcome anything

    Resilience and acceptance are closely linked. It’s when we face our difficulties square on that we tap deep into resilience.

    The first response to disaster is usually denial – which is the opposite of acceptance. It took a long time for Linda D. to emerge from denial. She came to see me soon after she was released from hospital. Linda, a young mother, was in her mid-thirties and looked fit and beautiful. Glossy chestnut curls framed her face. But I noticed that her smile was strained as she told her story. Some months ago, she said, she had felt a persistent ache in her belly but had put it down to indigestion. A while later she went to the doctor. He ordered a scan, then exploratory surgery.

    “Imagine my shock, “she said, “when I woke after the operation and the surgeon told me that they had sewed me up again because there was nothing, absolutely nothing they could do for me. They found cancer all over my liver. My first thought was: ‘No! Ben’s only four. I can’t leave him on his own. I just can’t be dying!'”

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    It took Linda some months to accept that she was going to die. In that time of denial, her emotions were in turmoil.

    It was late spring when Linda came to see me one last time. She was frail and her skin was like
    parchment. I settled her into a chair on the veranda. The wisteria blooms were a sea of purple. We were silent for a while. She told me that she was dying.

    “How do you feel about dying?” I asked

    “I feel at peace now,” she said. Then she raised her face to the sun and shut her eyes. “Everything is so precious. Now I know how precious each moment is!”

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    She died some weeks later. Because she was ready, she was able to let go of life gracefully. Her healing journey had led her from denial, rage and dread to a place of acceptance and peace.

    The path to acceptance

    A new beginning can only happen when the old form disintegrates. Look at what happens when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly: When the time for transformation has come, a larva wraps itself in a cocoon and becomes a chrysalis. Just imagine how that might feel! Suddenly the larva is constricted, can’t move anymore and darkness closes in. Then disintegration begins. Some cells die, others revert to an undifferentiated state, some cluster together as discs that carry a genetic blueprint for new structures. If you compare a caterpillar to a butterfly, they seem worlds apart and yet one transforms into the other. In some sense, you could say that the caterpillar dies. From this death, a new, beautiful form arises.

    Before something radically new can appear, the old form has to die.

    Acceptance is the first step of healing. It grows slowly over time. There are some simple exercises that help the process of acceptance. One of the most powerful techniques is Expressive Writing therapy as the story of
    Marion P. shows.

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    Marian’s husband died suddenly of a heart attack in the first year of their marriage. It happened just weeks before she gave birth to her son, Josh. Years later, she said:

    “I just couldn’t accept that I was now a widow with a baby. I so wanted to be part of a little family! I spent four years railing against my fate. Then I realised that I had to look to the future. After a while, I began to realise that Josh and I were now the ‘little family’. Acceptance marked the beginning of my healing process.”

    This is like the bamboo shoots righting themselves after the storm has passed.

    How can we practice acceptance and build resilience?

    I think the most important thing is to be honest with ourselves. Sometimes it takes courage to look reality in the eye. But when we do, we can learn to overcome anything.

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    Last Updated on August 4, 2020

    8 Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle That Get You to Live With Less

    8 Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle That Get You to Live With Less

    Minimalism is a way to put a stop to the gluttony of the world around us. It’s the opposite of every advertisement we see plastered on the radio and TV. We live in a society that prides itself on the accumulation of stuff; we eat up consumerism, material possessions, clutter, debt, distractions and noise.

    What we don’t seem to have is any meaning left in our world.

    By adopting a minimalist lifestyle, you can throw out what you don’t need in order to focus on what you do need.

    I know first hand how little we actually need to survive. I was fortunate enough to live in a van for four months while traveling throughout Australia. This experience taught me valuable lessons about what really matters and how little we really need all this stuff we surround ourselves with.

    Less is more.

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    Living a minimalist lifestyle is reducing.There are a few obvious benefits of minimalism such as less cleaning and stress, a more organized household and more money to be found, but there are also a few deep, life-changing benefits.

    What we don’t usually realize is that when we reduce, we reduce a lot more than just stuff.

    Consider just some of the benefits of living with fewer possessions:

    1. Create Room for What’s Important

    When we purge our junk drawers and closets we create space and peace. We lose that claustrophobic feeling and we can actually breathe again. Create the room to fill up our lives with meaning instead of stuff.

    2. More Freedom

    The accumulation of stuff is like an anchor, it ties us down. We are always terrified of losing all our ‘stuff’. Let it go and you will experience a freedom like never before: a freedom from greed, debt, obsession and overworking.

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    3. Focus on Health and Hobbies

    When you spend less time at Home Depot trying unsuccessfully to keep up with the Joneses, you create an opening to do the things you love, things that you never seem to have time for.

    Everyone is always saying they don’t have enough time, but how many people really stop and look at what they are spending their time doing?

    You could be enjoying a day with your kids, hitting up the gym, practicing yoga, reading a good book or traveling. Whatever it is that you love you could be doing, but instead you are stuck at Sears shopping for more stuff.

    4. Less Focus on Material Possessions

    All the stuff we surround ourselves with is merely a distraction, we are filling a void. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy comfort. After the initial comfort is satisfied, that’s where our obsession with money should end.

    We are bombarded by the media presenting promises of happiness through materialistic measures. It’s no wonder we struggle everyday. Resist those urges. It’s an empty path, it won’t make you happy.

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    It’s hard not to get roped into the consumerism trap. I need constant reminders that it’s a false sense of happiness. I enjoy stuff, but I also recognize that I don’t need it.

    5. More Peace of Mind

    When we cling onto material possessions we create stress because we are always afraid of losing these things. By simplifying your life you can lose your attachment to these things and ultimately create a calm, peaceful mind.

    The less things you have to worry about, the more peace you have, and it’s as simple as that.

    6. More Happiness

    When de-cluttering your life, happiness naturally comes because you gravitate towards the things that matter most. You see clearly the false promises in all the clutter, it’s like a broken shield against life’s true essence.

    You will also find happiness in being more efficient, you will find concentration by having refocused your priorities, you will find joy by enjoying slowing down.

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    7. Less Fear of Failure

    When you look at Buddhist monks, they have no fear, and they have no fear because they don’t have anything to lose.

    In whatever you wish to pursue doing you can excel, if you aren’t plagued with the fear of losing all your worldly possessions. Obviously you need to take the appropriate steps to put a roof over your head, but also know that you have little to fear except fear itself.

    8. More Confidence

    The entire minimalist lifestyle promotes individuality and self reliance. This will make you more confident in your pursuit of happiness.

    What’s Next? Go Minimalism.

    If you’re ready to start living a minimalist lifestyle, these articles can help you to kickstart:

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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