"Resilience" On Our Minds

A resilient petunia grows from a  crack in the concrete. Photo by Brad Waters

A resilient petunia grows from a  crack in the concrete. Photo by Brad Waters

A Psychology Today article that I wrote two years ago, 10 Traits of Emotionally Resilient Peoplehas reached nearly 100,000 visits. That numbers says to me that “resilience” is on our collective minds and we want to know how we can be better at bouncing back from adversity.

Can you relate to the 10 Traits in this article?

Ten years ago this month, Hara Estroff Marano, Editor-at-Large for Psychology Today, wrote in her article The Art of Resilience:

“At the heart of resilience is a belief in oneself—yet also a belief in something larger than oneself. Resilient people do not let adversity define them. They find resilience by moving towards a goal beyond themselves, transcending pain and grief by perceiving bad times as a temporary state of affairs… It’s possible to strengthen your inner self and your belief in yourself, to define yourself as capable and competent. It’s possible to fortify your psyche. It’s possible to develop a sense of mastery.”

So how do we fortify our psyche to ride the waves of adversity rather than being pulled under by the torrent? How is it that some people handle incredible amounts of stress while others quickly fall apart?

Those who master resilience tend to be skilled in preparing for emotional emergencies and adept at accepting what comes at them with flexibility rather than rigidity–times are tough but I know they will get better. The old metaphor applies: resilient people are like bamboo in a hurricane–they bend rather than break. Or, even if they feel like they’re broken for a time, there’s still a part of them deep inside that knows they won’t be broken forever. Here’s how they do it… CLICK HERE to read the 10 Traits at Psychology Today.

(original article updated May 18th, 2015)

Everyday Mindfulness Moment: “Sounds of Home”

Photo by brad waters

Photo by brad waters

A year ago I wrote an article about the hype surrounding the concept of mindfulness. All of the attention it receives can have the paradoxical effect of making us tired of hearing about it or stressed out that we’re not doing it right. For today, just know that mindfulness need not be concerned with hype or rights & wrongs. Mindfulness doesn’t require a special place and you don’t have to gear up with special clothing. Mindfulness is an aware and present state of being, to which we don’t have to ascribe judgement or value.

For today, try this simple idea to be more mindful of your sense of place. I call this “Sounds of Home” but it can be practiced anywhere. Start by finding a comfortable position where you can spend 15 to 2o minutes alone. You might  even set a timer on low volume.

Take several deep but comfortable breaths and settle into your space. Then, simply notice the sounds of your environment. If other thoughts arise—like your to-do list for the day—just notice them as they arise and let them pass. Keep bringing your attention back to the present moment of listening and noticing the space you’re in. You’ll likely notice familiar and unfamiliar sounds, but you don’t have to label them or attend to them. You’ve given yourself permission to sit for this time without answering the phone if it rings, without getting angry at the dog if it barks. You’re realizing that as much as you don’t have control of many aspects of your environment, you do have control over how you react to them. You notice how quickly fleeting sounds really are, yet how strongly our minds have been conditioned to label, judge, and react to them. A car horn is just a car horn until we allow our reactions to ascribe to it the story of how we can never seem to find peace and quiet. Yet even when we can’t find quiet, we can practice being at peace by staying fully present in the moment.

I share more tips for everyday mindfulness in my small ebook, Cultivating Your Everyday Mindfulness.