Six Truths I’ve Learned About Resilience


We do survive every moment, after all, except the last one. John Updike

What does surviving every moment teach us? Quite simply, that we are resilient.

If you’re like me, you’ve had your share of challenges. Cancer is certainly up there on the list, but it’s not the only entry. You’ve been around the block and you’ll make the trip again. Life is just like that.

What gets us up, over and through our challenges is resilience. Resilience is the ability to go on despite fear, disability or hardship. It’s the ability to recover and change course. We are going to break down at times, but it’s resilience that lets us rebuild.

The more moments I’ve survived, the more I’ve come to understand resilience:

1. Resilience means letting go of the fantasy of control: We just survived six days of cold and darkness when Hurricane Sandy knocked out the power. We did what we could to be comfortable. As for the rest, we just had to accept that we had no control over how long it took for the lights to come back. It was difficult, but acceptance made it less frustrating.

2. Resilience feeds on gratitude: Throughout our six days without power, I heard stories of immense suffering. Lives were lost, homes were destroyed and people are without food and basics. Given their suffering, how could I not feel grateful that we are safe and our home is unharmed. At my coldest moments, I just couldn’t shake my gratitude that it hadn’t been worse for us.

3. Resilience is cheerful: A sense of humor and cheerfulness go a long way. If you’re not feeling it, you can fake it by laughing at a funny movie or chatting with a friend. You’ll be surprised how easily your mood can lift when you actively try to improve it.

4. Resilience embraces change:  The most resilient people I’ve ever met don’t fight change, they embrace it. But don’t let them fool you. They don’t embrace change the minute it happens; they have their moments just like the rest of us. They just don’t spend a lot of time grieving the past because they are too busy adapting and moving on.

5. Resilience must be nurtured: Challenges require energy to navigate and energy, like everything else, is a limited resource. Resilient people know when to rest, relax and recharge. No one is effective 24/7 no matter what they tell themselves.

6. Resilience can’t go it alone: Social support is the most important building block of resilience. Carrying challenges in isolation is a recipe for burnout disaster and unnecessary. Resilient people seek out empathetic others to help them lighten their burden.

You are resilient! Don’t stop feeding your resilience with gratitude, rest, cheerfulness and acceptance and you will survive every moment (except the last one) with strength and grace.

Survival > Existence,


Image courtesy of Jimmy Smith


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