“A good half of the art of living is resilience.” – Alain de BottonIf ever there was a month that is all about resilience, I think it’s January.
Resilience: The power or ability to return to the original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched. The ability to recover from physical and emotional pain, adversity, or difficulties.
The holiday season, or holiday sprint like it feels at times, is marked by a lot of intensity and extremes. Extremely busy schedules and long to do lists, personally as we accomplish everything associated with the holidays such as parties and presents, and professionally as many things must be wrapped up by the end of the year and preparations made for a new year. Not to mention all the extreme eating and drinking! Intense emotions abound, from the joy of seeing little ones with faces of delight, to the grief of a loved one no longer with us, to the anxiety and stress that can come from stressful family dynamics or awkward social situations.
The first half of January we are practicing our resiliency as we come off the holidays and get back to our original routines, our regular schedules and eating habits, the communities we’re a part of day in and day out, the things that feel “normal”, or at least are our normal. (Perceived normalcy is an entirely different topic for another day…) We’re settling in to the emotions and recovering from the extremes that marked the last two months. And then we’re making new year’s resolutions (if you do that sort of thing) or, at the very least, likely set out some sort of goal or intention for what this new year will bring. Since only 8% of people usually keep their new year’s resolutions, we then are called to practice our resiliency by continuing to work towards our goals and intentions even if it feels like we’ve already failed. All of which makes January a big month of resiliency.
“It is really wonderful how much resilience there is in human nature. Let any obstructing cause, no matter what, be removed in any way, and we fly back to first principles of hope and enjoyment.” – Bram Stoker, Dracula
Returning to hope and enjoyment. Doesn’t that sound amazing?!?! It is one of the things I am always striving for, and something I think marks an optimistic life. And studies have shown that optimism and resiliency go hand in hand… people who are optimistic are more resilient, and the most resilient people are more optimistic.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t always feel resilient. Especially on days when I’m tired – be it physically or emotionally or mentally – it can be challenging to feel energized or driven to keep going. There are times where I think I should be able to “bounce back” faster than I do, so I beat myself up about not being as resilient as I want to be.
But, one thing I can guarantee, YOU ARE A LOT MORE RESILIENT THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE! We all are. Resiliency doesn’t always have to be about big challenges we’ve overcome, resiliency is most often about the small choices that we make day to day. So let’s celebrate your resiliency!
Here are some of the ways I recognize resilience in myself and others. Do you see yourself in any of these?
- You keep trying. Maybe it’s the new year’s resolution you already broke, like going to the gym every single day, but even after missing a few days you’re willing to keep trying, to keep going, to keep working towards that goal. This is resilience. An openness to try again and again. For me it’s trying to write every single day. I miss a lot of days; sometimes weeks at a time, but I keep coming back to this and I keep trying.
- You’re dreaming. Did you take a moment to dream about 2020 and what this year might look like? Whether it is a trip you might want to take or a new job you want, is there something that keeps igniting a dream in you? This is resilience. Believing in possibility and allowing yourself to dream of what is possible. For me, I’m dreaming of taking a Safari this year with my family and I’m dreaming of new ways to serve my clients. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I believe in the possibility and allow myself these dreams.
- You’re learning. Is there a new skill you’ve been working on, even though you’re completely novice and feel like you keep doing it wrong, yet you keep at it anyway? Maybe it’s playing the guitar, or painting, or learning a new language. This is resilience. Learning and expanding yourself in new ways. I’m trying to learn Italian and I love learning new recipes. I get it wrong a lot, but I’m still learning.
- You’re taking care of yourself. Do you do something, no matter how small, for yourself each day or week? It can be taking time for morning tea before the day gets going, or pausing for 2 minutes of meditative breathing in the midst of a hectic day, or a workout class once a week. Self-care doesn’t have to be this major thing that our society has made it to be. This is resilience. Taking care of yourself as you are called to expand and grow, or come back from times of challenge. For me, taking care of myself is about ensuring a few moments of quiet reflection each morning, and drinking my morning coffee with a bit of maple syrup before I start work (or even read emails!) for the day.
- You’re reaching out. Did you call a friend when the holidays felt especially hectic, just to chat and express some of your stress? Did you meet a loved one for coffee as a break from the intense pace of the last few weeks? This is resilience. Reaching out to people in your life and staying connected. It’s rare that resiliency is a solo act; usually our resiliency is supported and reinforced by those around us. For me, I have a friend I call as soon as I’m feeling overwhelmed and she helps talk me off the ledge. And my team and I often reach out to each other when we feel like we are in an over-thinking spiral.
- You are grateful. Do you keep a gratitude journal? Or, do you find yourself pausing now and again just to say thank you or express appreciation for something in your life? This is resilience. Gratitude and appreciation are key facets of building resiliency. I don’t keep a gratitude journal but I try to meditate on something I am grateful for each day.
See, you are more resilient than you thought! And if for any reason you got through all of this and you’re feeling like it reinforced the ways you aren’t that resilient, use this as a guide to how you can be more resilient. Go ahead and keep trying. Dream. Learn. Take care of yourself. Connect. Appreciate.
Optimism is resiliency. And the great thing is that there is never a perfect pinnacle for either of these. They are like muscles that need to be stretched in order to maintain them, but the more you do the more you’ll have both in your life.
Click to tweet: Optimism is resiliency. And the great thing is that there is never a perfect pinnacle for either of these. They are like muscles that need to be stretched in order to maintain them, but the more you do the more you’ll have both in your life.
How are you experiencing resiliency these days? I’d love to hear and celebrate your resiliency and optimism! Send and e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or head over to Facebook, or Instagram, and send me a note there.
“Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience. People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier. It turns out that counting your blessings can actually increase your blessings.” – Sheryl Sandberg
With optimism, resiliency, and love,