Thoughts on resilience

Exploring some emerging thoughts on resilience, how we define it and what place it has in our lives.

Today’s topic is one that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately — resilience.

My definition of resilience is being able to cope with and overcome change or adversity.

Other ideas that come up in definitions of resilience are the ability to bounce back from negative experiences and of staying flexible in the face of change.

A metaphor often used to illustrate resilience is the fable of the oak and the reed (or willow). In the face of a storm, the rigid oak tree snaps but the flexible reed bends with the wind and weathers the storm.

I’m interested in what allows us to be more like the reed, to flex and adapt to the challenges we face. A number of things I’ve read identify a set of characteristics of resilience. Broadly, these include:

  • Physical and psychological wellbeing
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-discipline
  • Emotional maturity or agility
  • Optimism
  • Connections, with others and with something bigger than ourselves

How do these fit with your own understanding of resilience?

When you think about a time you’ve overcome adversity or dealt with change, what did you draw on?

I’d love to hear your response to these questions. I’m hoping you can help me to understand better the place of resilience in our lives and what we can do to continue its growth.

One of the things that we can do to improve our optimism, for example, is to show gratitude. I was talking on the phone to my parents at the weekend and my Mum asked what the highlight of my week was. I scoffed at the question. As the days have started to merge into one no single moment seems to stand out from any other. But with some time to reflect on the question I’ve realised that expressing gratitude and recognising even the smallest of highlights can have immense value. It’s something I’ve done before, writing a weekly gratitude list inspired by Elan Morgan’s Grace in Small Things. And it’s a habit I’d like to get back to. My commitment to this is to post a weekly gratitude list on my personal blog. Will you join me?

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