10 Aug The Benefits of Learning Resilience
A foundation of resilience provides us with the confidence to approach life creatively.
The most resilient among us will experience Flow regularly – and understand how to cultivate the conditions for optimal performance.
Resilience is a learned ability and the skills can be acquired at any time in life. The key is deliberate practice combined with self-awareness. When we are aware of how we think, feel and act, we can adapt and flourish.
4 Benefits of Resilience Training
We define resilience as the learned ability to demonstrate Bounce, Courage, Connection and Creativity.
Let’s explore the four elements of resilience with this extract from Inside-Out: The Practice of Resilience.
Life delivers serious adversities from time to time. These may be of our own making or a result of external forces. For 50 years we have recognised that some of us respond constructively to adversity, finding ways to bounce back and emerge stronger and more effective. Others react negatively, losing confidence and acting in ways that undermine their wellbeing, vitality and effectiveness.
Those who bounce back effectively focus on what they can achieve rather than blaming. They maintain and engage supportive networks, and display a bias to take action. When in trouble, they focus inward, connect and act. These characteristics can be learned and practised. In fact, adversity may be exactly what we need to realise these strengths and master the ability to bounce back.
Some recommend the administration of small, repeated challenges to train people and society to exercise their capacity for bounce and adaptation. This has been missing in modern parenting and education. We are ‘killing people with kindness’.
Adversity triggers adaptive responses. As comfort-seeking creatures, we are quick to remove the experience of adversity from our lives. Excess safety reduces exploration, medication counters natural healing, tolerance encourages destructive behaviour, and social welfare undermines individual resourcefulness. We are afraid to let people learn.
Depression is increasing despite gains in wellbeing, and it now competes with heart disease as the major disease of our time. Depression rates in children have increased tenfold over the past 40 years, and the age of a first episode has dropped from 29.5 to 14.5 years. With an enormous weaponry of modern medicine and psychiatry, we frequently turn to medication and therapy rather than teaching the skills of bounce.
Bounce is the base camp for a good life in a dynamic world.
The second element captures our orientation to change, including the daily challenges of life. Based on the work Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, we learn helplessness or optimism from our interactions with circumstance. We always hold the option to engage constructively or to collapse, flee or fight. The difference is courage.
We have removed many of the daily challenges of survival. To thrive we must now go out and seek challenge with courage. We can do this through exercise, fasting, exploring, connecting and creating. Sometimes we resent novelty and resist change. We retreat into thoughts (ruminate) on how things were and should be, or worry about the future.
Resistance to change focuses our attention on external causes. This provokes anger, sadness (past) or fear (future). Change becomes a risk to be feared and fought. At other times we take an energised, optimistic and constructive stance to change and challenge. We focus on the goal and leverage resources to engage creatively. This leads to mastery and success, and stimulates an upward spiral of competence and confidence. Our attention is focused on our own actions.
While chasing change for its own sake has risks, someone who takes an engaged and optimistic stance to the turbulence of modern life will be more likely to succeed. Courage embraces the future with a curious mind, an open heart, and the will to take action. It is displayed by positive physical action towards meaningful goals.
Connection begins with a respectful engagement with our bodies, our emotions, our thoughts and our purpose. It extends to family, friends, community, workplace and beyond, to nature and our planet. Broken connections cause pain. Connection requires respect inside and out. It is a measure of maturity — an impulse to goodness. It measures how we have lived and defines how we will be remembered. It is an onerous responsibility and mistakes will be made.
Connection is a core ingredient that works synergistically with Creativity. Provided we work with self-awareness, respect, tolerance and compassion, the work of relieving suffering and ennobling others is deeply rewarding at all levels — body, heart, mind and spirit. Our wellbeing, emotional state, cognition and contentment improve when we help others.
Targeted helping (altruism), embedded in our evolution, reaches its finest expression when compassion is discovered and practised by an enlightened human being.
The fourth element of resilience pushes beyond difficulty and tenacity. Bounce and courage provoke learning and growth. Creativity is expansive and ambitious. While our capacity to develop is immense, it is not for everyone.
Reaching our full potential requires deep self-awareness, skill mastery and perseverance. Often experiments will fail. Fearing failure, many settle for mediocrity. Evidence shows that those who discover and stretch their talents experience increased life satisfaction, joy, health and longevity.
Aligning our talents and skills with a meaningful challenge enriches life. As we live longer in an economically insecure world, it will be necessary to find the skills to work well beyond traditional retirement. Our planet’s resilience depends on the creative stewardship of humanity. The world changes, our abilities mature, and what really matters evolves.
It is important not to overstay a phase of life, a job or a role. As the challenge changes and our skills adapt, we can choose to rejuvenate and find another layer of possibility. The creative impulse to advance into novelty is the story of humanity.
Can we Prove the Benefits of Resilience Training?
Actually – yes. Our Global Resilience Diagnostic Report analysed the resilience ratio difference in over 26,000 individuals who received resilience training. The results were clear.
Resilience training has a particularly strong effect on:
- Reducing depression
- Improving physical wellbeing
- Improving cognitive functioning
- Reducing the effects of stress
Read what our partner Datamine had to say.
Explore the report in detail.