'The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall'. — Nelson Mandela
Life is not a bed of roses. It comes with its own share of struggle, pain and failures. Only a person who is going through a tough time knows how difficult it is to keep one's mental balance and physical health. Another peculiar thing about stress is that it always comes in clusters- one blow after the other. It may momentarily seem easier to run away or end it all. But then suddenly one sees a ray of hope, a silver lining and all of a sudden there is a will to survive, a will to overcome. This capacity to overcome difficult situations is called resilience. In other words, it is toughness, ability to come back to previous good condition.
As doctors, we see so much of strength and courage among persons facing adversity, it makes us more humble. It is natural to wonder, why some persons face difficulties with so much grace and strength and others cannot. What makes them overcome, what makes them tick. I came across an elderly man who had lost his life's savings in a business-related loss. He felt he was being shunned by his own children. His wife's support helped him through this tough time. The thought that ultimately whatever we accumulate, we have to leave it all behind when we die, helped him cope. Her companionship and non-complaining attitude helped him rise. Through good times and bad times, that's what marriage is all about she said. I spoke to a widow who had no children. She said she was a virtual mother to more than a thousand students. Being a principal of a school, she found an opportunity to mentor many young minds. She immersed herself in work, forgetting that there was no one waiting at home for her. She found life's purpose in moulding young minds and she did it well. A sportsman lost his ability to run after a road traffic accident. He was heartbroken and depressed for a long time. But he understood his calling when he was called to be a chief guest in a schools sports day function. He decided he would coach young talent. He found purpose in life again.
Living examples of resilience are present all around us. Yet many of us complain about difficulties we face. Worse than that, we think of giving up. Is it possible to cultivate resilience? Can we learn to endure adversity with courage and positivity? Should be possible.
Let us now try and analyse the characteristics of resilient people. Are resilient people positive thinkers? Definitely yes! They try to think about the positives. They find an opportunity in adversity. It may be something small, but it helps them sail through. A student failed 1st puc science. He was forced to change college and branch to commerce. He felt small and lost. But later he thought that his chances of financial success were better with a commerce background. Finding that ray of hope, in a dense cloud is a skill. Making a conscious effort to think of a positive angle helps. Dwell on the positives even when it appears silly or far-fetched. Are resilient people socially isolated? Not really. They are good with social skills and know how to network. Once faced with difficulties they somehow mobilise support be it physical or emotional and get themselves back on track again. They share their difficulties with a trusted few and brainstorm options to overcome the problem. They always remember the kindness of others and reciprocate with help later. Are resilient people health conscious? You guessed it correct- they are. Also, they take care of the health of their near and dear ones. Prevention is better than cure. They understand that if Heath is lost a lot is lost. Even when in stress they continue to eat and rest well. Also, they don't forget regular exercise. They don't abuse their body with excess alcohol and drugs. They pay regular health visit to their doctor. Are resilient people emotionless? Not really. In fact, they are able to tame their emotions well. They are able to understand their negative emotions and change it into neutral or positive. Discussed above are only a few qualities of resilient people. There may be many more. Religiosity and spirituality may help a person become resilient. A scientific stoic rational attitude may help another.
Resilience is a peculiar quality. It may be with us on most occasions and may evade us in a crucial crisis. Sometimes a normally weak person may exhibit extraordinary resilience in certain situations. Seeing someone with the strength of will may bring out same in us. Sometimes one may be pushed to help a friend whose will is crumbling. It's good to be resilient. It is a quality worth cultivating. It can be learnt as a behaviour. It can be even practised as a habit. The fruit of resilience is when we overcome difficulty and look back with a sense of fulfilment and pride. It makes us more positive and more strong.
"If it does not kill you, it only makes you stronger. "Stress is something like that. So be resilient. Be strong.