Resilience is defined, by Dictionary.com, as the “ability to recover from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.” Human beings are resilient creatures. We have the ability to adapt, acclimate, and overcome, but there are times when it becomes difficult or near impossible to overcome and adapt. In a previous post, I listed 12 rules for adventure and survival which could be applied in our lives to be more like survivors (https://camminatoreafk.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/we-are-all-survivors/), but this time in Laurence Gonzales’s most recent book, Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience, he lists 12 rules of life. Although this book is about how to relive life post-trauma (or as the tag line goes, “You have survived the crisis—trauma, disease, accident, or war—now how do you get your life back?”), there is still something in these 12 rules of life that not only work for “surviving survival” but for everyday life as well.
1. Want it, Need it, Have it.
“Obsessed,” Riley retorts.
This first rule of life is about devoting yourself passionately for something—it can be anything! Get your pilot’s license, learn to ski, go rock climbing, travel the world, but whatever you do, dive in fully. “At first, you will want it. Then, if you persist, you will grow passionate and will need it…” (Surviving Survival, pg. 211). This passion will no longer be something you do, but something you are. You embody your passion, it is a part of you, a part of your identity.
Post-traumatic event, “this step also helps you develop an internal locus of control, which reinforces the idea that you have some control over your life…Challenge yourself, take action, and win” (pg. 211). Yes this will be scary, but it is probably good for you. Remember, “All it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage to change your life” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmMFIganRQY).
2. Be here now.
This is about mindfulness. Our bodies have developed mental models (our personal picture of how things are or work) and behavioral scripts (our automated responses or actions) which allow our bodies to be on autopilot. Have you ever zoned out while driving then snap out of it and realize you don’t know how you got to where you are? Mental models and behavioral scripts were in play that got you to where you are.
To be here now means you are present, paying attention. If you are doing this, you will be more likely to take opportunities and avoid hazards. This is especially made more difficult in today’s age of technology. The goal of technology is to make our lives easier, and in doing so, it decreases our attention and awareness. “Be here now means: Be quiet. Take time every day to tune out all the electronic noise, the chattering voices the clamor for attention, and then listen to your own mind and body” (Surviving Survival, pg. 212).
3. Be patient.
4. Be tough.
“Learn to suffer well…to achieve the greatest psychological health, some kind of suffering is necessary…. In a world where some suffering is inevitable, the only sensible thing is to learn how to deal with it” (pg. 213). This suffering may be on yourself or for others. In suffering, we find passion. In Latin, the word passion is a special use of Late Latin passiō, meaning suffering. Suffering in Latin is sufferre or to bear. In suffering, we bear our struggles, our problems, our crosses, but we don’t just bear them. As I like to say, “Get off the cross, we need the wood.” In bearing we also move forward adapting, overcoming. After a while, that cross will no longer be a struggle, but proof of how strong you are. “Here’s a straw: Suck it up!”
5. Get the small picture.
Continuing with suffering and struggles, remember: people who suffer don’t have to and don’t suffer all the time. In the midst of our sadness, difficulties, depression, anxiety—smile, laugh, or be happy. I say that because when we do smile, laugh, or try to be happy when we are not, we begin to feel happy and less sad, depressed, or anxious. Essentially, fake it until you make it. There is joy in everything in life, sometimes it is in plain sight, other times beneath the surface, sometimes buried deep within…but there is always joy, a light at the end of the tunnel.
6. Put things in their place.
While organizational skills would make sense here (which are also highly important in life), I am going to discuss fear. Putting things in their place is a process of becoming fearless, but not in the sense we all think. “[Being] fearless is not the absence of fear. It’s not being completely unafraid. …Fearless is having fears. Fearless is having doubts. Lots of them. …Fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death.” Guess who said this? A girl after my own heart—Taylor Swift. Embrace your fears, conquer them, be bold, be adventurous, live. Seth Godin is quoted saying, “If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.”
Again I’ll say, “All it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage to change your life” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmMFIganRQY).
7. Work, work, work.
After a traumatic event, survivors stay busy and this is a very effective means of adaptation which allows them to turn fear into anger then anger into action (pg. 215). There are times when thoughts or comments are gnawing away at us. Sometimes it is just better to speak your mind, granted prudence and wisdom is needed because consequences, whether positive or negative, exist. In the theme of fearlessness, in order to lead an orchestra, you must turn your back to the crowd. Stand up and speak your mind (with an awareness of the consequences).
8. See one, do one, teach one.
Altruism is “the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others” (Dictionary.com). “Recall how biting on a pencil can make you feel better because it activates the muscles used in smiling. Having higher purpose in your efforts [altruism] can take you out of yourself and make you feel more effective, more in control, more powerful” (Surviving Survival, pg.215). Be there for other, do something for others, serve.
One of the greatest things I have seen is random acts of kindness or pay it forwards. Write encouraging letters or notes and leave them in or on places where they will be found (please don’t litter, though), pass out flowers to random people, feed the homeless, invite random people for dinner (or take them out), talk to those hospitalized, homeless, or those in despair. Pay for the coffee or drink of the person behind you in line, cook a meal for someone, or devote your time to someone.
“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” ~Ronald Reagan
9. Touch someone.
Be socially connected, stay close to your friends and family. This also means keep connected with those who have right attitudes, someone you look up to. “Friends and family can help even when they aren’t really there, because we have mapped them permanently in our brains. …Being socially connected also means physically touching. … Touching can reduce pain, relieve depression, lower stress hormones, and improve the functioning of the immune system…and skin to skin contact reduces pain and produces oxytocin, the love hormone. There is a good scientific reason that people hug when something bad happens” (Surviving Survival, pg. 217).
If you are in a relationship, a piece of advice I have for you: hold hands and hold hands often. Be with each other side-by-side and never forget love is passion, passion is suffering, and suffering is bearing each other.
10. Be grateful.
“No matter how crazy your life seems to at the moment, being alive is a cause for celebration, for only the living can celebrate” (Surviving Survival, pg. 217). Every day above ground is a good day—a great mantra to remember.
11. Walk the Walk.
Always act if you are doing better than how you really are, and be honest about yourself. On days when you are struggling, put on a smile. Act strong when you don’t feel strong—and before long, you will be strong.
12. Life is deep; shallow up.
“Why so serious?” Humor is essential! Laugh at yourself. Laugh at the world! Find people to laugh with you. It is also important to remember, “Crying is good too. You have to be sad sometimes as well” (Surviving Survival, pg. 218).
“When the chase is done, our efforts spent, we call it a life. We can call it that only when the journey’s over, for until then, its shape is incomplete, the outcome uncertain” (pg. 219).
So again I ask, how you can intentionally focus on these in your life you are living. Which of these twelve are you good at? Which are the most difficult for you?
- We Are All Survivors (camminatoreafk.wordpress.com)
- Extreme Fearless People (25 pictures) (memolition.com)
- How to Find Your Passion: It’s Not Where You Think! (wonderfultips.wordpress.com)
- Fearless (ishstarscreations.wordpress.com)
- A Passion for Hope (nosajnawk.wordpress.com)
- Know your Passion (mexton.wordpress.com)
- Passion or Suffering? (contemplatinglove.com)
- Resilience as a Metaphor (medicamusae.wordpress.com)