In the face of life’s inevitable challenges, the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back stronger than ever—known as resilience—is far more than a psychological buzzword. It’s a pivotal skill that can determine the trajectory of our happiness and well-being. In this article, Eric Kim, UBC professor, delves into resilience: what it is, why it matters, and most importantly, how to cultivate this mental strength to lead a more contented life.
Resilience As A Muscle
Resilience is a trait anyone can develop with intention and practice. Think of it as the psychological equivalent of a muscle that grows stronger each time it’s exercised. Resilient individuals often share traits that enable them to navigate rough waters. These traits include a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the capacity to see failure as helpful feedback. Resilience does not eliminate stress or erase life’s difficulties. Instead, it gives people the strength to tackle problems head-on, overcome adversity, and move on.
Build Positive Relationships
According to Eric Kim, UBC, having strong, supportive relationships with family and friends provides you with a foundation to lean on in times of crisis. It is easier to be resilient when you know you are not alone. Nurture your relationships, engage in mutual assistance, and don’t hesitate to seek support when needed.
Taking care of your body is integral to mental strength. Prioritize activities that activate your parasympathetic nervous system, such as regular exercise, adequate sleep, healthy eating, and mindfulness practices like meditation or yoga. Your physical health is inextricably linked to your psychological resilience.
Flexibility is an essential part of being resilient. Understand that change is a part of life, and adapting to those changes makes you better equipped to handle any situation. Practicing adaptability by setting new personal goals and actively working towards them can bolster your ability to deal with larger life shifts.
Acknowledging and appreciating the good things in your life—even during hard times—can help shift your perspective. Keeping a gratitude journal or simply reflecting on the positives can lead to a deeper sense of resilience and contentment.
Lean Into Self-Discovery
Times of stress and difficulty can also be periods of growth and enlightenment. Through adversities, you may discover personal strengths you never knew you had. Instead of asking, “Why me?” try asking, “What can I learn?” and “How can I grow from this experience?”
Keep Things In Perspective
Resilient people clearly understand what is within their control and what is not. Instead of fixating on problems as impossible, they learn to reframe the issue. Aim to view stressful situations from a broader context and keep a long-term perspective.
Accept And Act
Acknowledging reality, even when it’s painful, is fundamental to resilience. Acceptance allows us to move past what we cannot change, while proactive engagement with our circumstances fosters a sense of agency.
Hone Problem-Solving Skills
Resilience is also about knowing how to solve problems effectively. When a problem arises, take a systematic approach. Identify the issue, brainstorm potential solutions, and then try them out. Developing these skills during small crises prepares you for larger challenges.
Eric Kim, UBC professor, says no one is born with complete resilience, it’s something we can all take steps to achieve. While the process takes time and effort, the pay-off is monumental: a life characterized not just by survival but by flourishing. Embrace the journey of resilience, and you’ll find that you can weather any storm and discover a deep sense of happiness and fulfillment in the process. Cultivating resilience is about building the mental fortitude to face what’s ahead with grace and grit. Every step taken is a step towards a more robust, content version of yourself. Implement these strategies today and watch as your resilience and happiness flourish.