Are you resilient when things fall apart, or do you go down for the count? In a world changing as quickly as ours, resilience is a skill that we all need to cultivate. Fortunately, it's not a trait limited to the genetically gifted few. Anyone can learn how to survive and thrive in changing times.
Let me tell you a story from my own life. When I was in my 20s, my beloved father was diagnosed with cancer. After two years, he chose to end his life rather continue with a treatment that caused unbearable emotional side effects. I was a cancer researcher at Tufts Medical School at the time, and although I knew a lot about cells in petri dishes, I knew almost nothing about human beings with cancer.
All that changed after Dad's death. I needed to make meaning out of our family's tragedy and channel my grief and anger in a positive way. I left the laboratory and retrained as a clinical psychologist. In the early 1980s, I co-founded a mind-body clinic at a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital. We offered programs for people with cancer, AIDS and stress-related disorders. The pain of Dad's illness and death was eventually transformed into both a new career for me and new hope for people who were ill. That's the power of resilience.
Are you resilient? The only way to tell is to analyze how you respond to stressful situations. When the ocean is calm, after all, every boat can stay afloat. But in a storm, you see what they're really made of.
Do you have what it takes to be resilient? Take the quiz!
New York Times best-selling author Dr. Joan Borysenko is a world-renowned expert in stress management and mind-body medicine. Her gracious presence, sense of humor and ability to combine the latest scientific research with personal stories and riveting anecdotes make her a popular speaker in venues ranging from hospitals and corporations to conferences and retreat centers. Her most recent book, It's Not the End of the World: Developing Resilience in Times of Change (Hay House), is available now.
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