Build Your In­ner Strength

Re­silience can be learned—here’s how.

Prevention (USA) - - CONTENTS - BY ELAINE CHIN, M.D., AND WIL­LIAM HOWATT, PH.D.

You got laid off. The per­son you thought you were go­ing to marry had a dif­fer­ent plan. A beloved pet went to the big, beau­ti­ful dog run in the sky. Re­silience is the abil­ity to gather your­self to­gether af­ter a rough set­back like one of th­ese (or a more mi­nor but still up­set­ting glitch) and move for­ward. Whether that means brain­storm­ing new ideas af­ter a job lead fails to pan out or open­ing

your­self up to love again af­ter los­ing your long-term part­ner, re­silience doesn’t mean you don’t feel the hurt— it means you can find a way to process it and come back stronger than ever.

Re­silience isn’t some­thing we’re born with, and it’s not some­thing we’re nec­es­sar­ily taught by our par­ents (though the sup­port we have dur­ing rough child­hood events ap­pears to in­flu­ence how we re­cover from neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences

later). Rather, re­silience is a set of cop­ing mech­a­nisms we de­velop over time, and re­search in pos­i­tive psy­chol­ogy has found that this qual­ity is de­ter­mined in part by how we take care of our­selves, the peo­ple we sur­round our­selves with, and what we do to find mean­ing and pur­pose in our lives. In fact, we have a lot of con­trol over how re­silient we are—roughly 40% of our over­all hap­pi­ness is thought to de­rive

not from our cir­cum­stances or genes, but from our own ac­tions. Of course, it’s one thing to bounce back when your metic­u­lously planned bar­be­cue is rained out and an­other to find hap­pi­ness af­ter your heart has been shat­tered. But the tech­niques in­volved are the same. Turn the page to learn how to be your strong­est, most re­silient self, no mat­ter what you’re deal­ing with.

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