Resilience: Thriving not just Surviving

My webinar on Resilience is on YouTube! Check it out.

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on. ~Robert Frost

Cancer is a very powerful and proficient teacher with the potential for profound transformation. It is a change that draws a line in the sand between the way we once looked at life and death and how we currently live life after surrendering, accepting, letting go and integrating that insight into who we are.
In his book, The Beethoven Factor, Dr. Paul Pearsall describes “Thrivers” as those who know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.” He defines “thriving” as stress induced growth that happens when we face a challenge. The way we respond to change – both large and small – is a good indication of our level of resilience.
Obstacles:Nobody said it was going to be easy.001Resilience is navigating the complexity of everyday life with resources that promote well-being and cushion us against being overwhelmed. Resilience is a complex set of skills and attitudes that can be enhanced and learned. A resilient response to change is far from effortless.

How do we increase our resilience? Primarily by putting forth the effort each day to focus on what is right – cultivating the positive. It sounds so simple. The key is focus – where are we bringing our attention? Positivity shines a light on things that are going well and expands awareness which allows us to learn new things and discover valuable resources.

Drawing on several sources, here is a partial list of key components of resilience:

Realistic Optimism – Focusing on the positive without denying the negative
Facing fear – Developing an adaptive response
Self-awareness and Engagement – Doing what you are good at
Mindfulness – Noticing without judging
Meaning and Purpose/Spirituality – Being part of something bigger than you are
Self-care – Sleep, nutrition, physical activity, etc. This is not a selfish act!
Relationships – Isolation is deadly. Connection is the currency of well-being.
Expressing Gratitude – Benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event
Maintaining a Sense of Humor – Laughter really is good medicine
Having Resilient Role Models -Know who they are and what makes them so.

So does this mean that we only focus on the positive? No, I am afraid not. Key component #1: Realistic Optimism is focusing on the positive without denying the negative. Accepting the reality of circumstances – living with that reality – and setting the intention to look for  possibilities – or at least the possibility of possibilities! Allow yourself to rest, patiently, with an open heart and a quiet mind – take advantage of the opportunity to grow. All growth is about changing and adjusting to “what is”. Suffering, on the other hand, is resistance to “what is”. Narrow spots are tools that provide us with life lessons that lead us to compassion and wisdom. The rest is grace.