Everybody faces tough times. Why do some people break down and some don’t?

The answer is actually quite simple. People with a positive (but realistic) attitude navigate the world better than those with a negative attitude. For the most part it is not the “times” or the situations that create distress. It is the meaning of the situation as interpreted by the individual that ultimately leads to distress. For example, if someone loses her job, she has many possible reactions. One reaction might be “this is awful. This is the end of the world. I can’t handle it, etc. This type of negative thinking leads to distress. A “strong” person knows “I can get thought this…whatever this is.” The strong person knows that she has survived every negative life’s event. Does the event have some negative impact…of course, but we all get through all the negative events…we survive.

Can we train ourselves to be more resilient?

Absolutely! The first thing is to embrace the truths that I mentioned above. Knowing, “I will get through this. I have gotten through every challenge of life.” Other ways to increase resilience include knowing that one has coping mechanisms…meaning that even during this challenging time, I can rely on—my exercise, diet, play, music, friends, meditation, quiet time, hot baths, reading, sense of humor, etc. as resources of peace or joy.

Resilience is like having chips in the bank. When you have 100 chips and you lose 5 due to a challenging situation you are still at 95%. However, if you are inundated with challenges…say 10 of them you are suddenly reduced to 50 chips and each one lost becomes more impactful. The key is to 1. Be resilient to not lose so many chips in the first place and 2. When losing chips be prepared to replenish them. Positive attitude is the key to not losing so many chips and self-nurturance (as listed in the next item) is the way to replenish. After exercise the body needs to replenish and with life’s challenges the emotional being must also replenish.

What are 2-3 elaborate ways that can help people be more resilient?

One of the most powerful ways to be resilient is to increase one’s sense of humor. Look for the funny things around you.

Also, playfulness adds to resilience. Blow bubbles (I do that from my car when stuck in traffic. It is much more fun than texting.), wear silly clothes, carry props (I have fake driver’s licenses as well as ID with me wearing a clown nose—and YES, I use them!).

Being appreciative adds to resilience. Appreciate that which is around you even the little things. I appreciate the butterflies in my back yard, I appreciate the tuner for my guitar (I cannot hear the tones to tune a guitar), I appreciate a sunny day and a rainy one too.