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6 Habits Of Resilient People

What makes some people persevere through trying circumstances while others begin flailing at the first sign of crisis? Understanding the key qualities of resilient people is the first step to cultivating that bounce-back quality in yourself.

By Gwen Moran

On April Fool’s Day 2011, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with early-stage invasive breast cancer. As a freelance writer with a career I love and a family that depends on my income, I spent most of the year juggling surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation with assignments, interviews, and youth soccer schedules. Throughout, friends and colleagues seemed surprised that I remained relatively active and pretty optimistic.

What else was there to do, I wondered. Taking to my bed for the better part of a year wasn’t an option for my personality or my bank account. Why not look at the bright side of early diagnosis and great prognosis and keep going? During that time, I contributed to two books, wrote dozens of articles and ended the year with a clean bill of health.

Since then, I’ve been more curious than ever about why some people persevere through trying circumstances while others begin flailing at the first sign of crisis. I wondered if there were commonalities among resilient people and whether it’s possible to develop those qualities and strong points. The answers, according to the experts, are yes and yes. Here’s what those never-say-die folks have in common–and how you can develop them for yourself.

1. They Build Relationships.

People who bounce back tend to have a network of supportive people around them, says Michael Ungar, Ph.D., co-director of the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. For some people, that’s a close-knit family, but for others it’s a carefully cultivated group of friends, colleagues, mentors and others who actually care and are willing to help. Ungar says he’s seen the tendency to seek out support sources in children as young as five years old: When the family unit isn’t functioning in that way, children tend to reach out to coaches, teachers or other adults as a support network. Similarly, resilient adults seek out others who care about them who can offer emotional, professional or other assistance when times get tough.

2. They Reframe Past Hurts.

Lorenn Walker had just left a hotel bar one night in 1976 when an unknown assailant nearly murdered her. He fled, but she was left badly injured, needing surgery on her face. Her recovery took four months. Through therapy and willfully refusing to be mired in fear and resentment, she was able to “reframe,” or think about the situation in a different way. Instead of resenting the scars and the fearful memories, the Waialua, Hawaii, lawyer and counselor sees the attack as the catalyst that led her to her work in what she calls restorative justice–counseling prisoners and victims of violent crime in how to make peace with the past and cultivate meaning in their lives.

“You have the power to determine how you’re going to look at a situation, and you don’t give that power to other people, particularly people who are bad or who hurt you,” she says.

3. They Accept Failure.

Paul LeBuffe lectures about resilience as part of his role as director of the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, a Villanova, Pennsylvania, facility that works with educators and mental health professionals to develop more resilient children. It’s not uncommon for his audience to include young people who were highly successful students, but graduated during the recession and are devastated at their inability to find jobs.

“They don’t know how to cope with the fact that they didn’t get the first job they applied for. So we hear a lot about these young people sitting in their parents’ basements playing video games,” he says.

If you don’t give yourself the opportunity to fail sometimes and accept it as a part of life, you’re going to struggle with bouncing back, LeBuffe says. Successfully emerging from failure develops the ability to be optimistic that things can be bad now, but they’ll be okay eventually, he says.

4. They Have Multiple Identities.

If you get most of your self-worth from your job and you get fired, you’ve suddenly lost both your source of income and a big part of your identity, says Ungar. Resilient people often have a number of areas from which they get their sense of self-worth, says Ungar. They may have deep friendships or family connections, strong faith, or a leadership role in the community. They’re better able to bounce back, because even if one goes away, they still have a sense of connection and being valued from those other areas, he says.

5. They Practice Forgiveness.

Whether it’s forgiving yourself for a failure or forgiving someone else for an injury or injustice, being able to let go of past hurts and move on is an essential component of resilience, Walker says. When you find yourself “ruminating about grievances and negative stories, you have to just stop yourself and remind yourself of what you have to be grateful for,” she says. If you’re not a naturally forgiving person, this takes practice, but it is a skill that can be mastered, she adds.


6. They Have a Sense of Purpose.

LeBuffe says resilient people have a sense of purpose that helps them analyze their situations and plot the next moves. This stems from a set of values that is unique to each individual. When you know what’s important to you, whether it’s family, faith, money, career, or something else, you can prioritize what needs your attention most immediately to help you get back to where you want to be. That goes for organizations, as well. When everyone knows the ultimate goal, they can make meaningful contributions. When they don’t, they’re mired in indecision.

“If the people who work in a company don’t know the values, they’re paralyzed. They have to keep coming back to senior management to say, ‘What about going after this market?’ or ‘What do you think about extending credit another 30 days?’ instead of being able to act adaptively,” he says. “It’s the same for people. You have to know what’s important to you to be able to take action.”

source: www.fastcompany.com

 


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11 Tips to Help You Think More Positively

JUNE 12    BY PAUL SLOANE

In a study at the Mayo clinic in Rochester, Minnesota patients were given a personality test that assessed their levels of optimism and pessimism. The progress of the patients was measured over 30 years, and it was found that the optimists lived longer than average for their age and gender while the pessimists had a shorter than average life. Researchers found that optimism strengthens the immune system and helps people to adopt healthier lifestyles. Optimists feel better about themselves and take better care of themselves, while pessimists confirm their fears by having higher blood pressure, more anxiety and depression.

You can choose to have depressing, negative thoughts or inspirational, positive thoughts; your attitude determines your mindset, which in turn determines your behaviours and the outcomes in your life. Many studies show that you will achieve more, feel happier and live longer if you chose the positive option. Here are some tips to boost your positive thinking.

Believe in Yourself
Successful people start with a deep inner self-belief. It has been shown that self-belief is more important than intelligence, education or connections in terms of life-long achievement. The important starting point is your conviction that you are capable of significant achievement or that you have something special to contribute.

Set Clear Goals
If you have no destination then your journey is haphazard. If you write down ambitious but achievable goals, then you are already on the road to accomplishing them.

Form a Mental Picture of Your Success
Imagine yourself achieving your goals. Savour the experience of your book being published, of making the sale, of giving the speech to rapturous applause, of winning the race, of living your dream. As your mind comes to terms with this picture it will help you to put the steps in place in order to achieve it.

Take Ownership and Responsibility for Your Life
Don’t be a victim. Don’t blame others or circumstances. You are the captain of the boat and you decide where it goes and what happens. If you are unhappy with an aspect of your life, then form a plan to change it and take action.

Talk to Yourself
Become your own motivator by telling yourself positive things. For example: at the start of the day you might say to yourself, “I am going to do really well today.” Or, “I am going to make real progress towards my goals.” When things go wrong or you falter, don’t make excuses—say something like, “That was my fault, but I can learn from that setback.”

 

yayEliminate the Negative
Use positive self-talk to overcome the doubts and negative thoughts that creep into your mind. Deliberately eliminate worries about difficulties and obstacles by taking a positive attitude, “I can overcome this challenge.” You do not ignore problems—you face up to them with a constructive and optimistic attitude.

Associate with Positive People
Among your friends, relatives, and associates there are probably some upbeat, positive, optimistic, dynamic people and some downbeat, negative, pessimistic or cynical people. Think about them for a moment and select examples of each. You should spend more time with the positive people and less time with the negative people. The optimists will inspire and encourage you, while the pessimists will feed your doubts and make you depressed.

Count Your Blessings
Draw up an assets and liabilities sheet for yourself. If you are educated, employed, healthy, in a loving relationship, financially solvent etc., then put these on the assets list. If you are unemployed, ill, in a toxic relationship, bankrupt, etc., then put these items into your liabilities list. The chances are that your assets will far outweigh your liabilities. We tend to take all the good things in our lives for granted and focus on our failings and needs instead.

Find the Silver Lining
Learn to look for the opportunities in every situation that comes along. Many self-employed consultants will tell you that being made redundant was the best thing that ever happened to them. At the time it may have seemed a terrible blow but now they have found greater fulfilment and satisfaction in what they do. Every change brings good as well as bad, opportunities as well as threats. The people who do well in life are the ones who use setbacks as springboards for new successes.

Relax and Enjoy Life More
Lighten up a little. If you can laugh at things then you can cope with them more easily. Don’t try to do everything at once. Don’t become overburdened with work. Deliberately give yourself little treats and do things that make you smile. Laughter is the best medicine—and the cheapest—so try to keep a balance between work, exercise, relationships and play.

Fake It.
If all else fails then fake it. If you are really worried, nervous, or doubtful, then pretend that you are confident and self-assured. Stride to the lectern, smile at the audience and act as though you are positive, professional and successful. Acting the role helps you develop the attitudes and behaviours that go with the part. You can fool the audience, and more importantly, you can fool your brain—you will start to be the confident, positive person that you are acting.

If positive thinkers achieve more, live longer, and are happier than negative thinkers then why would anyone choose to be a negative thinker? The answer is that many people find negative thinking to be an easy option that is more comfortable and offers less challenge. Do not fall into that trap. Think positively!

source: www.lifehack.org


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TEDMED: How the Power of Self-Identity Affects Your Health

By Maia Szalavitz April 11, 2012

When is a label a badge of honor, and when is it a harmful stigma of sickness or deviance? This question is of critical importance to public health and has been a theme running through this week’s TEDMED conference in Washington, D.C., which is focused on “ideas worth spreading” to improve health care.

In a reprise of a talk originally given in March at the TED conference — the parent conference to TEDMED — attorney Bryan Stevenson discussed how his beloved grandmother used a sense of identity to motivate him to do good, telling him he was “special” and meant for great things. Stevenson said he had to promise her to “always do the right thing, even when it’s the hard thing” and, also, never to drink alcohol (she told all her grandchildren the same thing, it turned out). At 52, Stevenson still hasn’t tried alcohol and, as an attorney, has had the honor of arguing cases so frequently before the Supreme Court that at his most recent appearance, one justice asked, “You again?”

In his TED talk, Stevenson said that his self-identity as a person who was meant to do good has also kept him going, even when his work fighting for death-row inmates and against mass incarceration has repeatedly left him “tired, tired, tired,” just as civil rights legend Rosa Parks had warned him it would.

But what does any of this have to do with health care? One of the best ways to change health behavior, it turns out, is to change a person’s self-identity. When a smoker begins to view herself as a nonsmoker or a teen sees binge-drinking as something “people like me” don’t do, behavior change is typically more lasting than if the person’s sense of identity is not invoked.

Research on everything from exercise, eating behavior and sexuality to political action and drug use suggests that having one’s identity wrapped up in a particular behavior is a crucial motivating factor to sustaining it. Once you see yourself as a runner, not running becomes far harder to do, for example.

There are also overwhelmingly negative issues associated with identity and labeling, however. The most obvious example would be a person whose identity and sense of self are tied directly to unhealthy behaviors — for example, viewing oneself as a “dope fiend” whose life purpose is to seek heroin or other drugs. If you believed that this identity was immutable or desirable — for example, if you use drugs as a way to rebel against conventional life — the possibility of change may be precluded before it is even truly considered.

A more subtle identity issue was discussed at TEDMED by Ivan Oransky, executive editor of Reuters Health. He focused on “pre-diseases” and the idea that American doctors, pharmaceutical companies and even patient advocates have medicalized everything from pregnancy and childbirth to aging. Examples include prehypertension, a condition of borderline high blood pressure, and pre-atherosclerosis, artery hardening that is measurable but hasn’t started to cause problems. Oransky said that he finds these “pre-conditions preposterous” and noted they result from the agendas of interested parties who benefit from the creation of more disease-like states that they can treat and make money from, and drum up public interest.

If such conditions were perfect predictors of actual health problems, then the question of identifying and labeling them early on would be a no-brainer. However, as we’ve discovered with screening for prostate and breast cancer, there are many early disease states that never actually go on to damage health — people die “with them,” not “of them” — while invasive treatment of the conditions causes harm. Estimating conservatively, about 100,000 people die each year from unnecessary and dangerous medical treatment, Oransky said, meaning that overtreatment is now a leading cause of death.

A “side effect” of such overmedicalization: the patient’s identity as a sick person. Once people see themselves as sick, they often limit themselves based on their view of what illness means.

In some cases, though, a “sick” identity can be liberating. For example, if a child learns that she has Asperger’s, which helps explains why social interaction is so difficult for her, she might stop blaming herself for being “weird” or “antisocial” and discover a whole community of similar folks. Similarly, people who suffer from depression, who find out that their miserable sense that everyone hates them or that nothing is any good is a treatable chemical state, can be empowered to seek positive change.

Whether a sick identity is a motivating power for change or a limiting stigma often depends on individual perception. Some people would rather be “sick” than “bad,” for example, and having a disease that explains otherwise undesirable behavior without placing blame will often allow the person to absolve his “weakness” and ask for help. In contrast, others view the idea of sickness as a cop out that denies a person agency and, therefore, dignity.

It’s a multifaceted question that will invariably have different answers depending on the conditions and the individual people. Figuring out how to use the power of identity for good within health-care system will continue to be a difficult but worthwhile challenge.

Maia Szalavitz is a health writer for TIME.com.