Resilience is key #7 to happier living

resilience_full_200Life’s not a happily ever after. We all get our share of troubles. And then? Stumble and fall? Or stumble and stand up again? Resilience comes from the Latin word resilio – to jump back- and is increasingly used in everyday language to describe our ability to cope with and bounce back from adversity. Some people describe it as the ability to bend instead of breaking when under pressure or difficulty, or the ability to persevere and adapt when faced with challenges.

Our resilience is influenced by three key sets of factors:

  1. our development as a child and as a teenager;
  2. external factors such as our relationships with others or having a faith;
  3. and internal factors such as how we choose to interpret events, manage our emotions and regulate our behaviour.

All of us can take action to increase our resilience. We are all likely to experience ups and downs so building resiliency is valuable. We can’t always predict or control what life throws at us, but we can build a range of skills and nurture our resources to help us respond flexibly, effectively deal with challenges, recover more quickly and even learn and grow as a result. It can even lower our risk of depression and anxiety and enable us to age successfully. What’s more the same skills can help us manage fear of taking on new opportunities and so help us develop in other ways too.

Bob Shumaker, a Vietnam veteran and former POW, shares his remarkable story of resilience in This Emotional Life (2010).


Leadership Now has 4 habits of resilient people:

  1. don’t listen to negative voices in your head. Don’t suppress them by affirmative talking, positive thoughts, try to ignore them.
  2. have a personal board of directors, trusted friends and family that support and guide you.
  3. be comfortable with not knowing. What you don’t know will not bother you. Think of your ancestors without 24/7 news tv-channels, internet, smartphones, etc. I bet they were happier without knowing what we (are able to) know now.
  4. let the ‘yes, but’ go.

Sam Goldstein highlighted the power of resilience in his TED talk.

More keys to happier living

These weeks I share more keys for happier living, as part of the Action for Happiness.