Personal resilience: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness

It’s hard  to take a day of rest at Meadowcreek.  It’s so peaceful just being here, so every day is restful.  But there is so much we want to do here, that it’s sometimes hard to just do nothing. Then it’s time to go to Blue Hole or Bee Bluff and just be amazed at the sights and not want to leave until it gets dark and maybe not even then.

Since it’s Sunday lets jump into the spiritual and psychological aspects of resilience.  You are your most important asset.  All your other assets are filtered and affected by you.  So your personal resilience is crucial to the resilience of your farm, your family, your community.

The best way to increase your personal resilience is to hang around people with a positive attitude toward life who like to fix things and solve problems.  Then you’ll become one of them and be able to pass along the attitudes of resilience.

Want  to build up your personal resilience and grit?  Try the following nine attitudes.

1. Make connections. Resilient people have a few really close friends for whom they would do anything and a lot a folks they keep contact with and see now and then.  Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in church and other civic groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.

2. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.

3. Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.

4. Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?”

Grit is the aspect of personal resilience which refers to the perseverance and passion for long term goals. People with high levels of grit work persistently towards challenges and maintain effort and interest over years despite negative feedback, adversity, plateaus in progress, or failure. High grit people view accomplishments as a marathon rather than an immediate goal.

5. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away. Act on adverse situations as much as you can.

6. Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.

7. Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.

8. Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear. Positive emotions and resilience are highly related. Maintaining positive emotions while facing adversity promotes flexibility in thinking and problem solving. Positive emotions serve an important function in their ability to help an individual recover from stressful experiences and encounters.

9. Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.

Emmy Werner was one of the first psychologists to use the term resilience. She studied a cohort of children from Kauai, Hawaii. Kauai was quite poor and many of the children in the study grew up with alcoholic or mentally ill parents. Many of the parents were also out of work. Werner noted that of the children who grew up in these very bad situations, two-thirds exhibited destructive behaviors in their later teen years, such as chronic unemployment and drug abuse. However one-third of these youngsters did not exhibit destructive behaviors. Werner called the latter group ‘resilient’. In contrast to their peers, These resilient children were bright, outgoing, had positive self concepts; had close bonds with an emotionally stable parent; and received support from their peers.

I hope this summary of social psychological research on resilience is helpful.  I also hope you don’t like it so much that you consider studying psychology as major in college.  I did that–almost getting a Ph.D. in psychology and teaching at two universities.  And I gladly left it all behind when I realized that most psychology is opinion and changes with the times.

Seek out resilient people and you’ll find they dismiss most psychology as mumbo-jumbo.  Don’t get locked into the world of words and talk.  Resilient people get up, go outside and solve problems: fix their bike, water the garden, cut down some weeds, pet the dog.  That’s what I’m going to do right now.

For more on personal resilience, see our chapter on increasing assets here.

2 thoughts on “Personal resilience: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness

  1. Pingback: Religion and resilience | Meadowcreek

  2. Pingback: Personal resilience, ecology and faith | Resilience

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