Resilience


Posted May 15, 2015

Over the years, I’ve worked with thousands of Ph.D. candidates and dozens of businesses, and although each one, ultimately, got to where they needed to be, their paths and approaches always seemed to fluctuate. Consistently, there have been those clients who seemed to take everything in stride, moving moment-to-moment as if life were a dance that they grew up practicing; I’ve also had at least one or two clients who needed a bit more coaching so as to not trip and fall, mid-song. And it’s not as if those fluidly moving clients were tremendously more talented than the next lot. No, instead this first group simply knew how to handle the added stress of any given moment. In other words, they had a certain perspective on life that allowed them to maintain a resilience that always kept them, more or less, even keel.

Looking into this stark contrast more, the American Psychological Association importantly defines resilience as the ability to adapt well to stress or problems, and they even have ways to cognitively, emotionally and physically build your resilience. Now, in addition to these strategies, I’d like to remind you that you and I are built to be resilient. In fact, Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist studying happiness, argues that our brain synthesizes what has happened to literally change our hedonic experience of happiness. In a separate TED talk, Gilbert basically states that 3 months after an initially “bad” event (i.e., the loss of your job, or your girlfriend, or fill-in the blank), the event really does not change one’s levels of happiness at all.

In addition to several creative experiments he conducts, Gilbert also cites two anecdotal examples: Pete Best and Morese Beckham. Pete Best, the original drummer of the Beatles, was kicked out of the now-famous band, only to be replaced by Ringo Starr. Yet Best stated in 1994 that, “I’m happier than I would have been with the Beatles.” Alternatively, Moreese Bickham spent 37.5 years in jail after being convicted of murder, which was later considered an improper conviction given the circumstances reviewed in the case roughly 35 years later. Upon his release as a free man, Beckham stated, “I don’t have one minute’s regret. It was a glorious experience.”

Yes, indeed, we are certainly resilient beings.

For those who read our newsletter every month, you already know that one reason I’m here is to add some perspective to our lives. In fact, what I know for sure is that how we view our lives matter as much, or even more, than the actual events, a notion that Gilbert reinforces through his studies. And when we combine this perspective with the fact that we as human beings are literally built for resilience, these two things together can lend themselves to all of us living with more grace and calm, which in turn can lead to living longer, happier, and healthier lives.

So, I invite you all to take a moment, view Gilbert’s video and read the APA site—you are built for resilience. Now, go thrive!

I wish you all a great start to the summer.

jim-signature-clear

James Lani, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Statistics Solutions


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