Resilience is being able to find balance after hitting a pot hole. It is waking up with hope after enduring a series of frustrations. It is looking beyond the circumstances of life in order to enjoy the moment.
Who would you rather have as your partner, best friend, family member, etc.: the erratic, controlling, moody person who freaks out at the first sign of stress or the happier, resilient person who has the emotional control and insight to be able to respond wisely and appropriately in stressful situations?
When we meet people with incredible resilience, sometimes we think they were gifted with this trait at birth. We might say that the resilient person’s amazing attitude could only have been achieved by having the good fortune to be blessed with great role models and lots of resources. Or, some of us might even think that resilient people are really just nutty “Pollyanna” types who are really good at denying “reality” in order to be able to smile, laugh and enjoy life in spite of their adversity.
The truth is, resilience can be learned!
(At Feel Good Buzz, we know it’s possible to become more resilient, because we learned it ourselves, in spite of growing up with a lack of positive, resilient role models and having plenty of challenges, including a lack of resources!)
But how do you become resilient, when you think your life sucks, (and maybe, parts of it actually do), you are unhappy, or you are not where you think you should be at this stage in your life?
Here’s a great little Zen-Buddhism story to illustrate our point, called “Maybe”:
Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.
“Maybe,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“Maybe,” replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.
“Maybe,” answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
“Maybe,” said the farmer.
What does this Zen story mean to you?:
- To us, it means that we have very little control over circumstances, but we do have a lot of control over our attitudes and our responses to situations.
- Was the farmer just lucky, or did he make his own luck by having the right mindset?
- It seems that the farmer was wise enough to know that everything, good or bad, would all balance out. (He was probably pretty good at carpe diem or enjoying living in the moment too.)
So how can you be more like the farmer in the Zen story (without having to move to Tibet)?:
- How can you become more relaxed and able to “go with the flow”, even when things appear not to be going the way you want them to go?
- How can you become a more patient, resourceful, resilient, joyful person with a rock solid positive attitude that people (even you) want to be around?
Stay tuned for Part II of cultivating more resilience tips in our next Feel Good Buzz blog post.
(Excerpted in part from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/09/26/bounce-6-steps-to-become-more-resilient/ and http://www.awakeblogger.com/2008/09/the-10-very-best-zen-stories/