My friend Shelly is a health nut. She exercises regularly, eats healthily, and drinks alcohol only in very moderate amounts. She has always seemed to me to be a model of how to live a happy, full and balanced life, coping well with the demands of running a home and working a demanding job. She had been experiencing some stomach pain for some time however and eventually decided to consult her doctor. Several tests later she was given the devastating news that she has cancer of the pancreas. That was certainly not the news she and her family expected.
Life is not easy. We all have to deal with disappointments and hassle on a daily basis, and also deal with really bad things such as the challenges facing Shelly and her family. The knack is to be able to deal with life’s inevitable difficulties in a way that still enables one to enjoy life, to have fun and experience fulfilment. In a nutshell, it’s to be resilient in the face of adversity.
Here are seven suggestions to help you enhance your resilience. Don’t be fooled into thinking that their simplicity makes them less effective – they are all research based and highly effective!
1. Keep your faith
In tough times, you need to keep in mind the “big picture” you have for your life. Remind yourself of your purpose and goals of life. Your personal beliefs play a big part in keeping your focus on what’s really important in your life and not being brought down by tough times.
But its not just faith and belief alone that’s important. It’s also about the implications of that faith: the ambitions and goals you create for yourself as a result of those beliefs. In tough times, faith and life goals provide perspective and the motivation to get out of bed and deal with the adversity.
2. Use your strengths
Almost everyone is aware of their weaknesses and may even have formal development plans to overcome them. In times of adversity however it’s much more useful to have identified your character strengths and use them to cope and move forward. People often comment that developing and using weaknesses is heavy and tiresome – in contrast, using natural strengths is easy and joyous. Thus try to deliberately capitalise on your particular personal strengths to persevere and deal with tough situations.
3. Find the positive
We need balance to obtain perspective – and the darker the adversity, the greater the need to maintain perspective. Even in bleak circumstances, people find things to be positive about. This type of positive yet realistic thinking promotes balance and helps build resilience.
This is the end of the first part of this blog which describes the first three tips for building personal resilience. The second part which deals with the remainder of the tips will be posted on 25 February 2010.