Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi sums it up best when he says the meaning of life IS meaning – whatever it is, where ever it comes from for each individual. We have to make that meaning ourselves; each of us. Which leads us to this – the meaning you give to your life in the face of stress, setbacks and failures, can build your resilience. Us superachievers need to continually build our resilience because go after what you want in life is no easy task and often comes with much rejection and failure. But we still have to pick ourselves up and get motivated enough to continue to pursue what we desire.
It is not the events themselves that determine our level of stress, it is how we decide to view them, and ultimately cope with them. Check out Kelly McGonigal’s TED Talk on stress for more information on this. Do you see change in your life as a setback or as an opportunity? Do you think of yourself as the kind of person who has a strong need for stability or one who relishes a good challenge?
The heart of resilience, like the heart of thriving, depends fundamentally on your ability to actively rebalance the positive and the negative in your life. Studies have shown the brains of highly resilient people show much less activity in the part associated with worrying and “what if” thinking. Highly resilient folks are more responsive to what is happening in reality, whether it is good or bad, rather than what might happen.
Increasing your resilience takes discipline and practice; it can be done! Two strategies for doing so are mindfulness and learning to shift your perspective. Maureen Gaffney, in her book Flourishing, states that if you develop a habit of mindfulness in your daily life, it will pay dividends when stress strikes, allowing you to observe negative thoughts without letting them take hold of you.
As for the second strategy, researchers found that resilient people stay hopeful about the future. It is this capacity to feel positive even when feeling negative that is at the heart of resilience. So a way to adapt your perception is try to see things in a positive light, then take direct action to tackle the problem.
Victor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, recommending asking yourself the following questions in the midst of adversity:
There you have it superachievers, several ways to build your resilience. Choose one commitment you will make based on this wisdom today.