Difficulty and hardship are part of the human experience for all of us – but the way we respond to life’s challenges can vary greatly. Some of us recover quickly, while others have a harder time, or even get stuck, unable move forward.
What accounts for the difference? Much of it is resilience. Resilience is the process of adapting well when faced with life’s difficulties.
While some people may be naturally more resilient than others, there are things you can do to increase your resilience reserve. Research shows that integrating practices of positive psychology can contribute to greater degrees of resilience.
Here are a few things you can do to practice, and build, resilience as you encounter life’s storms:
- Start a gratitude journal. Every evening write down 3-5 things that happened during the day that made you feel grateful. Positive emotions are powerful and protective!
- Be kind to yourself in the face of adversities. Don’t beat yourself up or allow your internal critic to kick into high gear – instead, practice self-compassion. You can find some useful self-compassion and loving-kindness meditation guides on the internet, including this one.
- Remember that suffering is universal – none of us gets a free pass. While we may experience tragedy differently, all of us will run headlong into a storm of some sort along the way. This perspective seems comforting because no matter how difficult things become, we are not alone in our walk.
- Reach out to others rather than isolating yourself. Connection with others is protective and healing.
- Seek help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed reach out to a family member or friend. If your anxiety and/or depression persists, contact your healthcare provider.
We have more control over the storm than you might think. These recommendations are similar to preparing for an actual storm – gathering supplies, observing weather reports/alerts, moving to higher ground, or leaving a geographical area to avoid impact. How we prepare and how we respond makes all the difference in the world. Consider Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s quote as you develop your own storm preparedness plan:
“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.”