Resilience is an Equal Opportunity Resource

Is resiliency easy? No, it’s not — but it is worth pursuing.

Consider these three examples.

Susan serves as chair for an international education movement and doubles as the unofficial “mayor” of her 500-home community. Busy beyond busy, she still finds time to listen to music with her husband, watch birds feed in the backyard, and nurture friends in need. Resilient in spite of the demands?  Yes!

Sasha hires himself out as a handyman and watches over his aging parents. He buys clothes at a thrift store and carefully considers every penny he spends. He laughs easily with his girlfriend as they clean the tiny house and feed the cats. He was adopted from Russia at age five and came with a fierce sense of both competition and fairness. He’d call himself resilient.

Angelica is a migrant from Mexico. She diligently cleans houses five days a week and cares for two children. She expresses gratitude freely and laughs often, leaving each home spotless and homeowners marveling at her work ethic. She says she’s resilient.

Three very different examples in gender, ethnicity, income, status, and education. And all three would proclaim themselves resilient by my definition: the ability to grow through events in life (not bounce back) and emerge stronger and happier.

What’s the secret?

First: they are not defined by their situation.

They agree that they CHOOSE to make life decisions, rather than abdicate life to make decision for them.

Second: they each discover ways to find purpose and meaning in what they do.

Susan’s is fairly obvious: heading up a school dedicated to making a world that works for all. For Sasha, it’s creating a home that welcomes a young woman whose background included bullying, abandonment, and struggles. Angelica proudly introduces her daughters and expresses pleasure at being able to bring in other woman to help, thus creating a livelihood for her Hispanic sisters.

Third: they practice the attitude of gratitude.

Yes, some days it does not come easy. But if you talk to each one, they have a list of people, events, and circumstances for which they are grateful.

Is resiliency easy? Nope. Life can hand us huge mountains to climb and deserts to cross. But how we manage our energy, our connections with the people and events in our life, will determine if we have the energy to grow through each crisis or opportunity. The first step is to recognize that resiliency is available to everyone. We just might have to work on it.

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