I love the Action for Happiness monthly calendars based on a different theme each month. They help me think over these themes at the start of each month and come up with actions I can take. This month’s theme is “Jump back up July” and it helps me think about resilience once again. I say “once again” because I have thought about this theme many times before. Maybe at all those times when I felt I was struggling in life.
What is interesting about resilience is that one does not think about it when life is on a smooth run. At least, I cannot imagine myself thinking of how resilient I am when I am having a great time with friends or family members, or if I am having a happy leisure time in a warm Greek island. But now that we are opening up, I am feeling quite worried about the future, and I feel the need to look back into my personal resources to deal with my own worries. As if to check in my toolbox to see what I have got to deal with life ahead.
Psychologists define resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress”, or sometimes as the ability to stay strong during challenging times”. I like the definitions, but I am having difficulties in understanding how that process of adapting really takes place or the ability to stay strong is formed. And how do they come into practice when needed.
I find it easier to understand resilience when I view it as a toolbox. A toolbox of resources that I have which I can rely upon when the need arises. Different situations might require you to use different tools from your toolbox. I will mention 3 tools that work best for me in the hope that they might also work for you or inspire you to create your own box of tools:
Checking on a friend/colleague/family member who might need to hear a friendly voice
I know how reserved I can be when I am feeling low. Though being socially connected helps us feel happier in life, it is very difficult for me to reach out to others, even loved ones, to say that I need them. Knowing this, I also think that there might be others like me out there in the world needing to hear a friendly voice, asking them how they are and listening to what they have to say. So, I try to be that friendly voice. Also hoping that the laws of the universe will work and I will hear a ‘ping’ on my phone from a friend doing the same for me when I need it. ☺
Embracing small steps
I am a results-driven person who enjoys getting big things done, accomplishing big chunks of work in a relatively short period. That might be easy to achieve when life is relatively under control but at times as present ones I need to remind myself that anything I do today is valuable. I do not have to beat myself up for all the items that I could not check off from my to-do list, but I can congratulate myself for even taking small steps in a day. It might be about taking a step as small as sending that e-mail rather than postponing it.
I find the Flow Theory working miracles for me. I become selfless when I use my strengths and it also helps me to perform better. So, during the most difficult times I deliberately try to spend more time using my strengths. This kickstarts a virtuous cycle which helps me to increase my capacity to deal with even more things in the areas I am already strong at. As I invest time in these areas, I see a natural flow of happiness running through me just because I am involved in these activities. As a bonus, I achieve good results.
I guess the resilience toolbox works best when we remind ourselves that we have been through various difficulties before and dealing with them contributed to form the person we are today. Those experiences gave us some of the tools to deal with what we are facing today. And what we are going through today will help us at some point in the future.
Nevertheless, I am looking forward to those easier days when I will be listening to the gentle waves of the sea and enjoying the sunset at a beach, thinking how great life is.
CEO of Happ Experience Management Solutions and Sponsor of the Global Summit on Happiness at Work
Happ is a SaaS company providing easy to set-up and user-friendly cloud-native experience management solutions. It improves clients’ experience management journey by helping them to quickly understand and act upon their customer and employee insight.