As featured in North Hawaii News April 12, 2016
After reflecting upon last month’s column about bravery, I feel that there is another step to be taken on this journey. There is a close companion to bravery, which is resilience. Webster’s Dictionary defines resilience as the “ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity or the like; buoyancy.”
When an individual, family or community experiences adversity, it can weigh on the hearts and minds of everyone involved. Sorting through the rubble and wrapping our heads around what has happened is very common. The good news is that we are in far more control than we realize. The majority of the experience is our perspective, so when this occurs would you rather be lost and distressed or bravely responsive?
Deepak Chopra’s current 21-day mediation series connects resiliency to both self-control and older adults who live a long, healthy lifespan. Dr. Chopra states that “the same bad things happened to them as anyone else, but they were emotionally resilient. They learned to bounce back into the role of being in control and self-reliant.”
Life occasionally hands us unexpected and great challenges, such as a fall that leads to surgery or a stroke which damages a portion of our brain. Being self-motivated to bring your body back to a place of strength and function, while giving yourself encouragement along the way, is a great example of the self-reliance and self-control required to live a resilient life.
We don’t need to look to others to fix our situation and make us better. Doctors are great at providing us with information and treatments, and therapists of all sorts are there to guide us along the path. But ultimately it is up to each of us to decide not to get stuck in the victim role because that’s the least likely place that we will heal.
I know a woman in her 90s whose hip replacement surgery didn’t take. She experiences a lot of pain, and appears at first sight like she is incredibly fragile. Stand back and observe, though, and you’ll see a strong-willed woman who uses every ounce of her two arms’ and one-legged strength to get herself from place to place. The pain is great, but her resilience is greater. She enjoys life to its fullest through conversation, music and even in managing her finances.
This mature woman’s positive attitude is inspiring, and it’s not by accident that she has lived this long and with such a great disposition. May this be a reminder for each of us to keep our everyday thoughts lifted up to that which we appreciate so we may each find this ability to face life’s challenges with both bravery and resilience!