Never Say Die! The Power of Resilience
Our ability to maintain momentum in the face of adversity is such an important factor in ensuring that we get the most out of life. The vigour of our resilience can often be the difference between achieving a goal, or falling at the hurdles that we meet along the way. However, it is vital to recognise that we do not have a static amount of resilience;
just like knowledge or fitness, resilience is a skill that can be learned, developed, and nurtured in order to greatly benefit our lives.
The word resilient stems from the Latin ‘resilio’, meaning to bounce back from adversity. The health of our resilience impacts our ability to cope with setbacks, our ability to let go of past events, and crucially, our ability to maintain realistic optimism. Maintaining realistic optimism is so vitally important to all of life’s endeavours, because without it, we can so easily fall into self-fulfilling our own negative perspectives on the future. Anyone who has had the experience of triumphing against adversity will understand just how life affirming this experience can be. These experiences can feed our resilience through the understanding that we become stronger and wiser through overcoming obstacles. It allows us to view ourselves as unstoppable, which of course, we all have the potential to be!
Resilient people are recognisable for their grit and determination, an outlook that acknowledges that challenges lay ahead but rather than fearing them, welcomes them and the growth that will surely accompany them.
They are inclined to think ahead, display characteristic of optimism and positivity, and a refusal to capitulate to external pressures. This positive outlook is at the very core of resilience as it allows the individual to frame adversity in the right way, as and when it presents itself. Our initial reaction to stress is so important, as it can really be the difference between overcoming or succumbing to adversity; maintaining a base line of positivity can make all the difference. One important factor in doing this is how we perceive our daily life, and for most of us, it means how we perceive our job.
Maintaining Positivity in the Workplace
‘Before Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water’
The above quote stems from Buddhist teachings and the meaning it is essentially trying to convey is that the key to happiness lies not with changing your daily tasks, but with changing your perception of them.
Yale University has carried out some fascinating research in recent years which has shed some light on job satisfaction. The findings suggest that it is not necessarily our job that dictates our feeling of wellbeing, but rather how we perceive our job. They found that there are three dominant ways in which we categorise our employment, viewing it either as a job, a career, or a vocation. The results found that about one third of people fall into each category, with the results dispersed across all job types.
The categories break down as follows:
A Job: Individuals who view their work simply as a job tend to perceive it as a means to an end. The pay-check is their only motivation and as a result it can engender great dissatisfaction and disillusionment with the day-to-day routine. None of us want to wish our lives away, but viewing our employment in this way leads to people counting the hours until the day’s end, and counting the days until the weekend. This greatly limits our ability to experience contentment on a daily basis and promote negativity throughout all aspects of our lives.
A Career: When we see our work as a career, while we still may not take great joy in our day-to-day tasks, we can benefit from a more personal investment in our work. This is because it allows us to be future oriented and strive for progress in prestige, power, and position. This outlook is hard to maintain if one’s employment does not seem to allow for progress, however, and so it can be a viewpoint that ceases to function once opportunities for progress have been exhausted.
A Calling: If you are lucky enough to see your work as a calling, then you are motivated to do the work for its own sake. You enjoy your work, and can actively view it in relation to its position within society. Your investment in your work means that you enjoy far greater job satisfaction, you are not inclined to watch the clock and are happy to work long hours to achieve what it is you set out to do.
Those who view their work as a calling do not have to endure the daily negative feelings about going to work in the way that others do.
This affords them a greater level of positivity which reverberates through all aspects of their lives, engendering resilience.
Change Your Perception: As counter intuitive as it might sound, it is not the job that dictates how we feel about it, but rather it is the meaning which we assign to it. The research has found that there are Doctors who see their work as a job, and street cleaners that see their work as a calling. Humans are adept at creating meaning for ourselves, and we are so often dictated by it. However, we can control this meaning creation by choosing to change our perspective. Consider how your work fits into society, how it is necessary and part of a larger picture. Try to be less focussed on the financial rewards and more aware of how you use your skills and experience to optimise your performance.
There is always a better way to do everything, and those who seek to do whatever they do well, will benefit from a more positive relationship with their employment.
By improving our outlook about our job, we can greatly reduce the amount of negativity that pervades our lives. This can be a game changer for our physical and emotional well-being, as well as actively benefitting our resilience.
Just as our resilience can benefit from improving our perspective on our work, the opposite is also true. Here are some tips on improving resilience through self-care and beginning a cycle of positivity with some easy life adjustments.
Five Ways to Build Resilience
Down Time: It is vital to take a moment every day to switch off, relax, and re-charge. Even if this can only be five minutes, it can be hugely beneficial.
In Time: This refers to time for reflection and finding calm. For some people this can mean journaling, for others meditation. It is important to find what works for you, and to reflect upon your day.
Move Time: Exercise is the magic bullet. Regular exercise will simply never fail to improve your physical and psychological well-being, as well as fortifying your resilience.
Night Time: It can be difficult at times but it is imperative that we ensure that we get enough good quality, restorative sleep. When we do not, it diminishes our energy levels and by extension, greatly reduces our resilience.
Play Time: We can’t neglect our social lives, it is an important part of our emotional health. Make sure you find the time to laugh and enjoy life with friends. It is a cathartic relief that gives perspective to our struggles.
Resilience is all about positivity. We must try to actively bring positivity into our lives as it becomes a resource, a well from which we can draw strength in times of need.
We must absorb all we can from the good things in our lives. We must have gratitude for all that we have, and reduce our awareness of what we lack. By stopping and smelling the roses, pausing to enjoy your favourite song, or taking the time to sit in a beautiful place, we can actually provide ourselves with the fuel we need to overcome adversity. Find the positivity in your world today, I assure you it’s there, you just have to look for it!
Be sure to follow Dr Mark on Twitter @drmarkrowe and check out doctormarkrowe.com for ongoing advice on getting the most out of life!