Ditch striving for positivity and happiness. The positive thinking/happiness craze of more recent decades has morphed into something much better. Developing resilience is what we need to work on.
Resilience is not detachment or toughness or even bouncing back quickly from a disaster. Resilience is a mindful buoyancy granting us the ability to float above adversity, effectively managing challenges and difficulties that come our way.
We may experience failure – get sick, bingle the car, marry Bob who becomes a slob and then ditch him – but by developing resilience we can grow out from the downside of our experiences like a branching tree. In other words we are not rejecting the experiences we have, but are facing and engaging them and thus using them to grow.
So rather than fixating on being happy, or positive, or loving all people we meet in a warm embrace of gooey kindness, we develop resilience so we can not only recover from adversity but develop more genuine, solid relationships.
Mind/body fitness is a part of resilience. Many people think we can use this to avoid the bad things that happen. I believe we are responsible for the great majority of events in our lives but avoiding unwanted things becomes daunting and is simply not attainable. Importantly resilience is about better understanding the role of our choices. Some choices entail more responsibility than others. It is recognising these differences that helps us focus our energy where needed most.
So resilience it’s not avoiding or shutting ourselves off from the world but creating a strong base for understanding our emotions and feelings in relation to it. We then get to participate in all the nuances and meaningful interactions the world has to offer without feeling tight and strained.
By developing resilience you can float through your day with a sense of ease without getting involved in people’s nonsense. At it’s heart is simplicity. You can still indulge in life, you can still fall over but your composure, your poise remains intact.
As you have made it this far you have already incorporated resilience into your life. Can we improve? Probably.
Catching our thoughts
I believe we need to continually practice mindfulness to keep developing resilience and a sense of peace with the world. It is fundamental. One thing I do when nothing much is happening is to catch my thoughts – I ask myself what am I feeling and then begin to notice things right here and now. Psychologist Anna Rowley sees it as a perceptual shift from your internal to external realities. It’s like you acknowledge what is inside and then look outside – two worlds.
The other day I was in a bad mood because OMG! I was in the supermarket. I decided to take a deep breath and begin to walk around the isle and notice all the silly things money can buy. It became entertaining. Probiotic chips! Wow.
Driving is very dull so I play catch my thoughts constantly. Count things, study things. Sounds and sensations become important. How many trees, notice seven things etc. Make it lively, make it playful, make it interesting.
It may seem silly but catching your thoughts develops resilience because you are not judging things – you are acknowledging your internal reality – your feelings, the mind chatter – and consciously placing your focus to what is right in front of you. This becomes your default mind mode and so when things do go awry – Bob the slacker does finally leave with half his bum crack showing as he waddles out the door – you are better able to adapt.
Resilience is not an act of defiance or toughening up against a threat. Isn’t it true that society and the media is adept at keeping people in fear coercing them to be rivalrous? This hardening, this rigidity can help us deal with a major setback and provide a space for healing, but eventually the tense grip only weakens us as we become less flexible – less amenable to change. We need resilience to develop an emotional literacy that the world sadly lacks as many people seem to be reacting to everything in a heightened, inflamed state of botheration.
Mindfulness takes practice – it’s something that we should incorporate daily.
Flexibility is a cornerstone of resilience.
Developing resilience requires a tenacity to work on yourself which I know that you dear reader have been active in. Never give up on that. Staying fit, eating well, exercising: they are all important, but training the mind is vital – so catch your thoughts.
Best to you
Coming soon: Resilience gives you a strong base from which tenderness and vulnerability can flower without fear of being used. That’s a topic for my next article.
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