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  • Writer's pictureHeather Davis

Developing our Resilience and Perseverance

Updated: Jul 31, 2020

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” ― Helen Keller

Built into the human experience are going to be challenging, stressful and traumatic events.

Even without the evening news, there is plenty in our own lives that throw us into chaos and uncertainty: be it a loss of a job or loved one, serious health or relationship problems, or stress over finances.

Yep, this pandemic checks all the boxes.

Psychologist Carol Dweck uncovered two distinct mindsets that affect how well one perseveres through setbacks and struggles when pursuing goals:

Those with a growth mindset generally view effort, learning, adapting and persevering as part of the process. People with a fixed mindset are more likely to get discouraged, give-up or be unwilling to put in the effort because they see problems as unchangeable.

Resilience: skills of adapting and rebounding

Resilience is the ability to recover or bounce back after difficulties. It involves flexibility, calm and an optimistic outlook to see beyond the crisis at hand. These are the keys to getting back up after a singular loss or a series of failures.

The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of risk”, not only avoiding a long-term negative impact of a singular event, but also managing and adapting to ongoing stress or disappointments and being able to hold up well under pressure.

A learned behavior, resilience is the ability to adjust to, or recover, following adversity and change. The only way to build that muscle is actually to get knocked down and get back up under our own power. We cannot be resilient in theory. It is only during times of confusion and anxiety where we develop our resilience.

In order to adapt to a new normal and pick up the pieces, the behaviors, thoughts and strategies of resiliency can be a big advantage. We are capable of a lot more than we think and we find this out when the chips are down. One of the most important traits related to resilience is the belief that our own actions drive accomplishments rather than our circumstances.

Resiliency is anything but special. Throughout history and all around us today, person after person, story after story show evidence of the ability to rebound from whatever life brings. It’s part of who we are as a species. Humans are great at adapting to, and sometimes even thriving, under adverse conditions.

Perseverance is an individual sport

Often the sole difference between people that succeed and those who do not, is simply having the ability to just keep at it, while others retreat. Sheer willpower. That difference is often driven by our sense of self.

Persistent people have the ability to ignore an often-unsupportive world around them.

Perseverance is just continued effort to no matter the resistance. Because the resistance is guaranteed. It will come from the world: maybe they don’t like what you have or who you are. It will come from your head: perhaps today you are unmotivated or are doubting yourself.

Success at anything is going to take repeated effort. And sometimes those efforts must happen when the wind and spit and dirt is in your face and not at your back – just make sure you’re wearing your mask.

It may not go the way you planned it. It will probably take longer than you expected. There will be times of little or no movement or even the feeling of going in reverse. The rule is simple and concrete: Keep on going. No matter what.

The skills of adapting and rebounding involve flexibility, calm and an optimistic outlook to see beyond the crisis at hand. These are the keys to getting back up after a singular loss or a series of failures.

The power in resilience, perseverance and in the willingness to delay gratification is not about intelligence or even about resources. Available to everyone, it’s built out of patience and sheer determination.

We can learn much about resilience and patience from the natural world, and from plants in particular.

And they can teach us a whole lot more beyond that.

10 Helpful Reminders: #8: Pandemic Rx: Greenspace


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