Hard times are a part of life, but what gets us through them is unique to all of us. Life’s struggles can be hidden within us such as depression, anxiety or grief, while other struggles are more overt such as the loss of a job, the dissolution of a marriage or the loss of a loved one. Some of life’s struggles are shared with other people and make headlines in the news. The recent flooding in Alberta has hit very close to home, affecting thousands of people within the province I live in. No matter what the struggle, what gets us through?
In the search for a one word answer, I initially I thought of ‘perseverance’, but upon further contemplation ‘resilience’ seemed to be more important. Resiliency is the ability to adapt in the face of difficult experiences. According to the American Psychological Association, it is a learned ability that can be molded through both our behaviours and thoughts. This potential can be a very beneficial and protective aspect of both our physical and emotional health.
Have you ever considered how resilient you are?
Think of some of the difficult situations you have been faced with in your life. How did you cope at the time and how did the experience help you handle future struggles? You can measure your current level of resilience on The Resilience Scale website by taking one of their quizzes.
Considering how important it is, how do you build resiliency?
This is a vast topic that has been researched and written about in many ways. Consider this definition from Dr. David Hellerstein: it is a scientifically-based concept of effective coping as a means of alleviating chronic stress. With this definition in mind, here are some of the ways you can work on building and increasing your own resiliency:
1) Prioritize your total wellness. My Wellness Vision offers a schematic of the components of well being, such as physical, social, emotional and nutritional wellness and how they interconnect. Working and building on all of these aspects will improve your overall ability to cope with life’s stressors.
2) Consider life a journey of learning and discovering. Be open to new ways of approaching life and remain curious.
3) Enjoy laughter and smile often. This will enhance positive emotions and a sense of optimism.
4) Believe in a sense of purpose and meaning in your life. Consider Rick Warren’s Ted Talk, A life of purpose, where he poses the question: “What is in your hand?”, meaning identity, income and influence. In other words “What are you going to do with what you have been given?”
Although there are many ways you can improve upon on your ability to cope with life’s struggles and stressors, building a stronger level of resiliency is a good place to start. It will not only help you face the challenges of both today and tomorrow, but throughout the rest of your life.
“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.” – Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free