::::: Mind and Body :::::
more resilient,” says Robert Brooks, Ph.D., assistant clinical professor of psychologyat Harvard Medical School and coauthor with Sam Goldstein, Ph.D., of The Power of Resilience. Yet, like almost any behavior, resil- ience can also be learned, says Gold- stein, a psychologist at the University of Utah. In fact, research shows that resilient people share some common qualities—ones you can cultivate to master any crisis.
They stay connected
Resilient people rely on others to help them
survive tough times. After Barbara
Smith, 54, of Canton, Georgia, lost her
oldest son, Evan, in a motorcycle accident three years ago, she wondered
if she could keep going. The turning
point came when she joined an online
bereavement support group and then
launched a subgroup (dailystrength
.org/groups/formomsonly) to bring
together other women who have lost
children. She now spends hours a
day on the site and has also organized
retreats for group members. “We’ve
saved each other,” she says.
Research bears out the importance
of connection. In a study of 243 caregivers in British Columbia, Canada,
those who reported good social support scored higher on measures of
quality of life and well-being, regardless of the burden they carried.
I adapt quickly to new developments. I’m curious. I ask questions. Rate yourself on each of these statements using a scale from 1 (Do not agree) to 5 (Strongly agree). HOW RESILIEN T ARE YOU?
I’m usually upbeat. I see difficulties as
temporary and expect to overcome them.
Feelings of anger, loss, and discouragement don’t last long.
I can tolerate high levels of ambiguity
and uncertainty about situations. I’m flexible, and comfortable
with my paradoxical traits: optimistic/pessimistic, trusting/cautious,
I find the humor in rough situations and can laugh at myself.
I feel self-confident.
I learn valuable lessons from my experiences and from the
experiences of others.
I’m good at solving problems. I’m good at making things work well.
I’m often asked to lead groups and projects, though I have an
independent spirit amid my cooperative way of working with others.
I’m strong and durable. I hold up well during tough times.
I’ve converted misfortune into good luck and found benefits
in bad experiences.
35–40: Highly resilient
30–34: Self-motivated learner
20–29: Somewhat resilient
Less than 20: Poor at handling pressure
(but it’s never too late to learn).
Note: For a validity check, ask two people
who know you well to rate you on these
items; see what scores they come up with.
Look for discrepancies and discuss them
to come up with your true resiliency score.
Adapted from The Resiliency Advantage
by Al Siebert, Ph.D. Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2005, Al Siebert, Ph.D.
They’re optimistic Like Deborah Robinson, people who have a sunny
outlook do better at managing crises.
A University of San Francisco study
of caregivers concluded that those
who found positive meaning in their
caregiving were less likely to become
depressed after their loved one died.
But don’t fret if you lack a glass-half-full point of view. Experts say negative
thinking is just a bad habit, though it
may take some work to change your
mindset. The first step: Observe the
spin you put on your own experiences.
When you catch yourself thinking negatively, challenge yourself to frame the
situation in more positive terms. For
instance, when you open your 401(k)
statement, think: “If I change my in-
vestment strategy, I’ll do better” instead
of “I’ll never recoup my losses.”
participated in religious activities were
less likely to be waylaid by depression.
When these patients did become de-
pressed, the depression lifted sooner
than it did for less religious people.
They’re spiritual “Generally
people who are active in a religious
faith tend to get through difficult times
better,” says Al Siebert, Ph.D., author of
The Resiliency Advantage. A Duke University study concluded that people
with serious medical conditions who
had strong religious convictions and
They’re playful “Resilient people enjoy themselves like children
do,” Siebert says. “They wonder about
things, experiment, and laugh.” Take
Donna Goldman, 60, of Lincolnshire,
Illinois, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2001 yet continues