Resilience isn’t just being tough; it’s a skill you can develop. Here’s how I did it.
Maybe it’s just coincidence that resilience is trending during these troubled times, but it does seem to have become the buzzword du jour. Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant examine it in their best-selling book, “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy,” which is one of hundreds of similar titles online (many aimed at children). The highly motivated can enroll in courses such as the one taught at the University of Minnesota, “Change: Loss, Opportunity and Resilience” or “Mental Resilience Masterclass,” available online.
But today’s concept of resilience is not the old-fashioned idea of being tough enough to bounce back after the bad stuff in life. Today’s resilience is about how we respond to experiences such as trauma, divorce, bankruptcy, unemployment or a death in the family. Tara Brach, psychologist and Buddhist meditation guru, put it to me this way: “Our habit is to view challenging situations as if something is wrong; that we are a victim and we have a problem. What if instead of a problem, we perceive stress as a signal to call on our resourcefulness, our intelligence, care and courage? Resilience grows when we become intentional about bringing our best to difficult life seasons.”
I have more than just an academic interest in the subject. In the space of four months this past year, my mother and father died; my husband and I separated; and I had a health scare. “Any one of those life changes would be enough to make someone trip if not fall,” was a constant refrain from friends. They were surprised by how resilient I was in navigating these choppy waters.