Do you see resilience as springing solely from adversity?
Can it build from positive interactions in times that lack trauma?
As we age, do we become more of ourselves? Do we become more of what we have already been in our lives? That is, based on our track record, will we become more loving, fearful, cheerful, optimistic, pessimistic, healthy, kind, or mean?
Can we become more resilient? Some research points to factors that help children develop resilience (even in—maybe especially in—difficult and horrific situations).
Or has our resilience become a defined quality and quantity based on our background?
Do a quick search of the word “resilience” and you will find 66+ million hits on Google, more than 35,000 products on Amazon, and about three-quarters of a million YouTube videos. There is no lack of research and views.
The typical definition of resilience points to one’s ability to rise above, recover from, move on from, and learn from adversity. But is that the only way one grows resilience? Do you see resilience as springing solely from adversity? Can it build from positive interactions in times that lack trauma?
About two years ago on this blog I offered the following thought:
Can we look at resilience from a slightly different perspective? Maybe we can approach resilience as a condition of being adaptable to a disaster and also living and sustaining a healthy life that avoids (or at least, prepares for) disaster before it happens.
Edith Grotberg of the International Resilience Project believes we can develop resilience by focusing on three areas:
- What I Have (building a support system of relationships);
- What I Am (developing intrinsic strengths/thoughts)’
- What I Can (acquiring and growing interpersonal skills and critical thinking).
Last week, Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings asked readers,
If the object of life is not mere resilience but flourishing, attaining it may be less a matter of wild pursuit of favorable outcomes that leave us perpetually dissatisfied and reaching for more, than of wise acceptance that allows us to do the best we can with the cards we’ve been dealt.
I recently spoke with an adult friend who related a traumatic experience he encountered as an adolescent. He is not sure how, but he not only rebounded from the incident, he thrived and developed survival strategies.
A mother shared with me the trials and tribulations of her teenage son who was making ill-advised choices. She and her husband provide the support system (“tough love”) that is helping (albeit slowly) the child to grow his interpersonal and critical thinking skills. The parents continue to focus on the long game. When he comes out on the other end of this turbulent time, he will have developed coping mechanisms that will allow him to flourish.
At least that is the hope.
Will he become more of what he has been the last few years or more of what he has the capacity to build within himself and for others? His strong support system points to the latter.
How does your support system help you to flourish? How can you help someone this week?
Video recommendation for the week:
Support networks. Recognize them. Build them. Create community. A powerful video about the power of relationships.
Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.
My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).
My programs and webinars: website (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).
Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).
(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.
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Hi, I enjoyed your post. I would also add that biodiversity is key to resilience in humans, even in a psychological sense. If I live in a biodiverse environment, I believe my consciousness feels subtley supported in a way that it wouldn’t in an arid desert i.e. there are food and shelter etc resources around me. Also, I wonder what research has been done, if any, on parallels between human psychological resilience and the resilience of ecosystems, which is known to include the mechanisms of tightness of feedbacks, modularity (that shock in one part of the system is contained), and diversity, which includes diversity of function and connection within species of flora and fauna, as well as diversity of number of species. In fact, it seems to be the number of useful links between species that is the most important for resilience. Looking at how a storm affects a forest may help us understand how trauma affects a human being; we are afterall complex organisms comprising many different cell types and conflicting / diverse elements in our psyches, but all connected……Hope you enjoyed my ramblings!
Thank you for your feedback. Most interesting; parallels intriguing. Have you read Buettner, Dan. The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the World’s Happiest People. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2017. There might be a nugget of two for you there as well. I appreciate your thoughtful insights.
Hi. And thank you for your insightful and thoughtful response. The parallels between nature and human trauma—intriguing. HAve you read Buettner, Dan. The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the World’s Happiest People. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2017. I appreciate your time and sharing. BTW: If this posts twice, pardon the redundancy. It appeared my first response did not go through. 🙂
Indeed, no I haven’t, but I will. Thankyou!