If we are lucky, there are periods in life when everything seems to fall into place; school, work, family, relationships, etc. Curiously, at such times, we’re usually too busy to even notice our good fortune.
Then something happens; illness, the loss of a loved one, getting laid off, or suddenly finding ourselves in a pandemic. We stop taking things for granted.
Hard times roll off some people like water from a duck. They can soldier on in cheerful spirits, and friends may not even recognize their struggles.
For others, misfortune is devastating.
None of us escape tragedy. When it strikes, some people are far more resilient than others.
Recently, a friend asked about this in a FB post. “What advice would you give a friend to help them build grit or their capacity to be resilient,” he asked?
That’s a good question.
There are probably as many answers as individuals, but I think there is a common thread present in those who survive hard times. Namely, the ability to get beyond “Self.”
Singer-songwriter Paul Thorn has a lyric relating to this point that resonates:
“If you’re above the ground
If you’re under the sun
Whatever mountain you’ve gotta climb,
You’re not the only one.”
When the world revolves around “Self,” and “Self” suffers a blow, the world comes crashing down! It’s much harder to knock someone down who isn’t self-centered.
Those were my initial thoughts.
But, the question continued to roll around in my head. Getting beyond “Self” may be part of the answer, but there’s more to it than that. A better explanation is more personal.
Resilience is hard work. Few people run a marathon without discipline and extensive training. Resilience is similar; in fact, some of life’s storms are harder to get through than a marathon. Winston Churchill said, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” That’s good advice, but one needs a plan.
MJ and I have had our share of challenges. I think it would be fair to say we’re pretty resilient.
From my perspective, consistently applying the following principles helped a great deal.
Four Principles of Resilience
1. Completely accept the moment, without wishing it to be different.
2. When someone asks how I’m doing, always reply “Never Better,” and then practice meaning it.
3. Gently ignore the negative voice in my head.
4. Practice witnessing “we” in everything.
I’ve not seen these principles written anywhere; they came, so to speak, from “the school of hard knocks.” I find myself referring to them frequently. They’ve never let me down.
I hope they are equally helpful to others.
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