resilience in times of change

In Japan, the Daruma Doll is a good luck charm with a rounded bottom. When knocked down, it bounces back upright. This ability to bounce back is a symbol of perseverance and good luck.

We’re getting knocked down pretty hard. Bouncing back is vital to getting through these tough times. Here are a few ways to strengthen our resilience:

  1. Meditation — meditation can be very helpful to calm that “monkey mind” that keeps us up at night and adds stress. Insight Timer is a web site and free app available on Android and Apple. It provides a free library of 30,000 guided meditations, instructions, talks, music, etc. on over 200 topics.
  2. Visualization — neuroscience shows we can rewire our brains and shift our mental and physical health by consciously focusing on our desired rather than our feared future.
  3. Get Real — we can actively seek reasons for hope during these dark times to overcome “headline stress disorder.”
  4. Cut off Catastrophizing — I’ve used an elastic band on my wrist to literally snap my attention back from my adverse thoughts. That’s step one in the ABCDE model. Next is examining our belief about the event, looking at the consequences of those beliefs, disputing them, and energizing toward our desired future.
  5. Attitude of Gratitude — building and regularly reviewing our long list of reasons to be grateful is a powerful way to reframe and rebalance our inclination to focus on what’s wrong rather than what’s right.
  6. Three Good Things — when my head hits the pillow, I review my day for the three best (and more) things. We’ve practiced this around the dinner table with our family as well.
  7. Leverage Character Strengths — use this scientific, free, positive psychology tool to assess and use your top strengths.
  8. Talk About It — loved ones, good friends, or mentors can be enormously useful in talking through our stress and trauma. Counselors trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are effective coaches to me and our family.
  9. Positive Psychology — using evidence-based approaches, this rapidly growing field is continually providing powerful tools and approaches. The Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania is a treasure trove of very helpful resources.

In her Harvard Business Review article, “How Resilience Works,” Diane Coutu writes,

“Resilient people and companies face reality with staunchness, make meaning of hardship instead of crying out in despair, and improvise solutions from thin air. Others do not…We all know people who, under duress, throw up their hands and cry, ‘How can this be happening to me?’ Such people see themselves as victims, and living through hardship carries no lessons for them. But resilient people devise constructs about their suffering to create some sort of meaning for themselves and others…an increasing body of empirical evidence shows that resilience — whether in children, survivors of concentration camps, or businesses back from the brink — can be learned.”

Further Reading and Resources