RESILIENCY - Ability to Recover Readily from Illness, Depression, Adversity, or the Like; Buoyancy

How often in life have you crossed paths with those individuals who seem to navigate the bumpy road of life with comfort and ease…"the glass is half full"…"live each moment to the fullest"…"make lemonade when life gives you lemons". You might attribute their positive attitude and strength to exceptional luck in dodging life's stressful events. What enables them to stay strong and in control when things go wrong? Research has shown that these individuals have successfully engaged their own personal strategy for building "resiliency" - a personal trait that allows the individual to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress - such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.

Can you develop resilience, hardiness, and a talent for good fortune? Absolutely! Resiliency research into the inner nature of life's best survivors shows that we can improve our mental health and emotional strength in the same way we can develop our physical well being. However, like keeping our bodies in good physical shape, it requires dedication, time and commitment. Resiliency involves actively practicing behaviours and thoughts that build our mental and emotional stamina.

Traits that Promote Resiliency

Sense of Humour: finds humour in life - able to laugh at self

Humble: realistic about both talents and faults - modest - unpretentious - listens and considers

Autonomous: has and enforces safe boundaries between self and others - self-reliant - emotionally distances self from destructive people, environments and life situations

Creative: self expresses through art forms (dance, music, writing, etc) – values own inner world - tries new things

Self-Motivated: masters problems - optimistic and confident - takes the initiative and takes responsibility for actions

Content: generous - calm - grateful - alive in the moment - maintains reasonable expectations

Traits that Promote Resilience and Your Ability to Bounce Back

Resilient people have a passion or purpose that nourishes and sustains them. Build your resiliency by identifying those things that "light your fire", bringing you a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction - then figure out how to translate your desire into action.

Establish and maintain good relationships with close family members, friends, or significant others. Make a commitment to spend time with people who genuinely care for you and accept their encouragement and support. Many people find that being active in a community group, faith-based organization, or a support group can provide a sense of "connectedness". When we share information, ideas, and emotions, we help one another and get comfort from knowing that we are not alone in facing the challenges that day-to-day living can bring.

Stay flexible. Resilience involves staying flexible as you deal with stressful circumstances and traumatic events. Learn when to allow yourself to experience strong emotions and realize when it is better to avoid them in order to maintain your balance. Choose when to step forward to deal with your problems and struggles and when to step back to rest and re-energize yourself.

Insist on moving toward your goals. Make realistic plans and take the necessary steps to carry them out. Ask yourself, "What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?"

Learn from life’s unpleasant experiences. Taking the time to acknowledge your struggles provides an opportunity to learn about yourself. You may realize how you have grown as a result of dealing with a hardship or stressful event. Avoid falling prey to the "victim" mentality, by acknowledging your own contribution to difficult situations - not just blaming everyone else when things don’t go right.

Invest in your physical, spiritual, and emotional health. Do whatever it takes to get out and exercise. Choose an activity that you enjoy. Start slowly and increase gradually as you become more comfortable. Walking is very popular and does not require special equipment. Other good exercises include swimming, biking, jogging and dancing. Invest time in maintaining good nutritional habits and eating well. There are lots of resource materials to help you get started in developing good health habits.

Expect good outcomes….be optimistic. Optimism is a vital ingredient for a life that is creative, productive and resilient. Research shows that optimists live longer, enjoy better health, and do better in relationships, work and sports. For some, optimism comes naturally but for many a positive attitude towards life must be learned and cultivated. There are many self-help books, seminars, workshops and motivational speakers that can help you in developing the tools to cultivate a positive attitude.

Nurture a positive view of yourself. Develop confidence in your ability to solve problems and trust your instincts. Believe that you are a valuable, capable person who can influence the environment and what happens in YOUR life. If you respect yourself, you can respect others, improve your relationships, your achievements and your happiness.

Change is inevitable. Our journey on life's road will be full of twists and turns. The ability to handle change is a key survival skill for all resilient people. Try to anticipate and look ahead to see what’s coming. That way you will be better prepared for the next change. Make a conscious effort to stay flexible. Give yourself a break when you are learning new skills or making a personal change. Be patient with yourself and others in the face of change.

Endeavor to be empathetic towards difficult people. Mentally healthy people have the tendency to try and view life from other points of view besides their own. Empathy is easy with someone you know and like. But how do you react to those people who are less than “likeable”? Remember to remain confident, do not over-react as it will only escalate the conflict and confuse the issue. Approach difficult situations with integrity and a positive attitude. Don't let bitterness, anger, or resentment grow.

“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional”.