The ‘Resilience’ Muscle

“Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

Charles R. Swindoll

According to Webster’s dictionary resilience is defined as-

“An ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”i

Throughout life we all may experience stressful events or have negative experiences, building our ‘resiliency muscle’ (RM) is the key to weathering the storm that is life. Strengthening the ‘RM’ is a skill that can be learned. Through the cognitive process known as ‘neuroplasticity’ our brain has an amazing ability to adapt, and improve.

It is a process I call “passionate practice”, where we can strengthen our ‘RM’. Be grateful; build resilience, rinse, and repeat!

Dr. Daniel Goleman wrote about this in his bestselling book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in 1995. This book that opened the door to the emerging discipline of behavioral neuroscience, sometimes in tough times we become, as Dr. Goleman wrote, “emotionally hijacked”; the key is to ‘regulate’ our reaction and behavior.

It can be difficult to be grateful at times because our brain is programmed to protect us, (flight or fight); think of walking through the woods and seeing a stick on the ground. Is it a snake or a stick?

The more we can adapt, the stronger the path in our brain becomes, the more resilient we become.

As we embrace an attitude of gratitude and gratefulness our personal ability to rebound is enhanced, avoiding as Dr. Goleman wrote the “amygdala hijack.” The amygdala is the emotional part of the brain, which regulates the fight or flight response.

Challenging times will happen in life, when they do, practice asking yourself, “what am I feeling” and consider the message, or the takeaway, can we learn from them? Think of these life lesson’s as ‘small wins’ or ‘little victories’, this works because the pause we take regulates the reaction. Flourishing in life involves struggles, growth, authenticity, compassion and gratitude.

Remember these tips-

· Strength comes from struggle

· Identify and understand habitual ‘triggers’ that set you off

· Give yourself a millisecond time out before reacting, regulate

· Pause and process emotional moments

· Embrace ‘small wins’

· Resilience is a skill