Adversity is Inevitable; Misery is Optional
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We have all heard stories about people who survive and bounce back from misfortune. They know how to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start over again. Some of these stories are about famous people and some about the not-so-famous. Some are about dramatic events and some about relatively common situations such as job loss, broken relationships, etc. How come some people bounce back from adversity and others don’t? The personality trait of resilience is a major factor in determining whether people recover and thrive or not.
Some people are crushed by misfortune – even remain a “victim” the rest of their lives. Others recover from hardship – even stronger than before. Highly resilient people think and behave differently than others. Research indicates:
• They are optimistic and have faith in the future. They think of difficult times as
temporary times from which they will recover.
• They accept the idea that bad things can happen and don’t insist that the world
must be fair.
• When disaster strikes, they identify their feelings, face the pain of loss, grieve,
and move on.
• They recognize their strengths, believe in themselves and in their ability to be
• Challenge and change are considered part of normal life by resilient individuals.
They focus on what they can learn from the past and remain flexible about the
• They know what they can and can’t control or influence. They focus on what
they can change and let go of the rest.
• Where “victims” of misfortune wait to be rescued, the resilient take control,
formulate a plan, and act.
• They look forward to find the possibilities in their new situation and are willing
to take reasonable risks to create a new future.
The capacity to respond to adversity in a resilient manner appears to have a genetic basis. Some people just seem to be born with more of it. But, everyone has some level of resilience. All of us have experienced set-backs and managed to get ourselves back on track. Everyone can increase his or her resilience. Maximizing your resilience will bring you greater pleasure and more success in life. Here are some suggestions:
• Think about the times when your resilience was at it’s best. How were you
responding to the situation. What did you do or think that got you back
on your feet sooner than might otherwise have been true.
• Analyze your belief patterns. Is your glass half empty or half full? Reprogram
your thinking to focus on what you have going for yourself and what the
• Identify the most resilient people you know. Notice how they handle difficulties and
challenges. Learn from them.
• Replace ruminating about your misfortune with problem solving. Focus on
what you can do to create the best possible future.
• Know your talents and your strengths. When hard times come, use them.
• Within your network, develop people who will be your circle of support during
• Keep yourself in good shape. Basic well-being will buffer the impact of
© Glen Rediehs, Ph.D.