How to cultivate resilience

Webster’s dictionary defines resilience as the ability to bounce or spring back into shape after being stretched, bent, or compressed. Some years ago, one of my older brothers, a great businessman, told me that he thought I was one of the most resilient people he knew. A great compliment, although I believe we all have the power of resilience. Being resilient doesn’t mean we don’t experience difficulty or distress, trauma, or pain and sadness. In fact, research has shown that the road to resilience is likely to involve working through one or more of these.

Talking about this with some business friends led to us look at the ways we find the good in situations and how we cultivate resilience. One friend believes that their faith in their ability to get through adversity is what leads them. Another one thinks that patience plays a big role in helping them to walk through difficult situations. All think that developing resilience is a personal journey, since everyone doesn’t react the same way to life and business events.

Experts say that a combination of factors contribute to developing resilience, including:

  • The ability to make plans and goals and take the steps to get them done.
  • Having confidence in your strengths and abilities.
  • Problem-solving skills.
  • A regular routine for good sleep and good health as a base for mental and emotional resilience.
  • A sense of humor. Humor can help us understand and get through hard things.
  • Being able to see setbacks as temporary, and knowing that you’ll get through a “crisis” and come out okay.
  • Having an attitude of gratitude by keeping in mind all the things for which you can be grateful.
  • Having strong spiritual beliefs that things will improve.
  • Being flexible. Go with the flow — trees that don’t bend in the wind will break.
  • Coping skills like exercise, meditation, yoga, or any form of relaxation.
  • Not letting a bad situation define you.
  • Being patient with yourself and others.
  • Reaching out for support.
  • Considering all the possibilities. 

Resilience doesn’t make problems disappear, but it does help us roll with the punches and see past the challenge.

One of the friends I was chatting with put it simply enough: “Life goes on. We get up and get going.” That’s how resilience starts — putting one foot in front of the other.

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