Are You Resilient?

I found this awesome article yesterday last Thursday on MindBodyGreen called:

Why Resilience Is The Key To Lasting Happiness + How To Cultivate It

You can read the article in full here: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-24659/why-resilience-is-the-key-to-lasting-happiness-how-to-cultivate-it.html

Resiliency. What does that mean to you? Would you consider yourself a resilient person? I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about this idea myself. However, after experiencing our loss, I connected to this article immediately. I’m going to share and talk about some points that struck me, but definitely read this article in its entirety if you can.

“Groundbreaking research shows that happiness is in fact much easier to attain if we stop focusing on it so much. Although this might sound counterintuitive, happiness shouldn’t be the end goal if you really want to be happy.” [Tray’s note: the “research” comes from sources gathered by the author of this article, who has written a a book about this topic.]

Immediately, the underlined part grabbed my attention. Initially I thought, “What does that even mean??”  Clearly, I kept reading.

“Our frantic search for happiness is leading us astray primarily because we’re fixated on the wrong things. We desperately try to capture good feelings for ourselves, which alienates us from others. As contagious as happiness can be if we express it, the process we’ve been taught of how to attain it can be a very lonesome pursuit that further decreases happiness.

I had to think about the part in bold that alleges we “alienate” ourselves from others in the quest for “good feelings”…that it’s a “lonesome” pursuit. And after some thought, (I think) I understood what they meant. If this doesn’t make sense to you, think about climbing the career ladder or say, finding the right person to share your life with. I’d say about 90% of the country (maybe even the world) would say that achieving career success and finding love would bring happiness. With those examples, I can see how we can tend to alienate ourselves (or how it can be lonely) trying to obtain those goals. Obviously, if you think about this further, you could probably come up with other examples.

“In this way, a focus on happiness mostly serves to highlight our shortcomings. Lasting happiness requires building upon your strengths, persevering, and being gracious with yourself and othersit’s really not about personal achievements or experiencing fleeting, positive thoughts and feelings.

This statement right here…the bold part? Wow. But the underlined part? Stop the presses! Think about how much we strive to achieve happiness in our lives. We think that if we obtain the “ideal” or even “perfect” career, home, family, appearance, personality, things, etc, that we will be happy. This has been the mantra, if you will, forEVER. Achieve alllll the things (insert said things) and you will be happy. My first thought was, on one hand, if we’re not striving to achieve something in life, then…dare I say it…what’s the point of living, right? Like, we weren’t put on this earth to just be bumps on a log, right? Of course not! We’ve got to achieve something while we’re here. But on the flip side, once we achieve the things that we feel will bring happiness, then what? Are we truly satisfied or will we (most likely) try to achieve something else that will bring happiness? Is the key to happiness dependent upon entering into some never-ending cycle of achieving things? Hmm. Makes you think, eh? Well, it made me think. 🙂

I’ve discussed this before (I think), but I’ll briefly say it again. While living in NYC, I often found myself feeling the pressure of trying to have what everyone else had. It was the classic “keeping up with the Joneses” situation. Without getting too deeply into it, we both felt (in various ways) like we had to do or have certain things/achievements to be happy. We saw others “happiness” and wanted to replicate it. In sum, it came down to:

More career success = more money = more things/achievements = happiness….or so we thought. 

The article then goes on to discuss resiliency, how to become resilient and how that (not fleeting positive moments) leads to a path of long-term happiness.

“In this age of instant gratification and quick results, people often get uncomfortable when they have to work hard and solve problems. They reject negative feelings—but that’s not going to make them any happier. However, it’s healthy—almost necessary—to sometimes be unhappy in order to find lifelong well-being. While negative feelings clearly don’t feel good, they are important tools for growth and learning…”

“In fact positive emotions play a large role in resilience. Research has shown that they help us rebound better from trauma and find opportunities for growth from stressful experiences.

Interesting, right?

My husband and I have made it through several years of only one of us working, while living in two pretty expensive cities. I don’t know how many couples could go through what we have (and still are) and yet, still have a strong relationship. And then, to experience the loss of our child…well, I can’t take full credit for that because as a Christian, I heavily relied on prayer and God’s Word to help me. It was through prayer (for everything we’ve been through over the years) and LOTS of positivity, that has gotten us to this point. And I have to say that I feel good about it all! I know that sounds strange. But I feel different, stronger even, when I look back through some tough moments in my life. I definitely have a new outlook and perspective about life. I’ll write about this one day.

But think about something you’ve worked really hard for in your life and it didn’t work out. What happened? You picked yourself up and continued to work hard anyway, right? (Most of us do this.) Eventually, with continued effort, we hope it all works out in the end. If it doesn’t, it was still a learning experience. No one is thrilled to experience a loss of any kind (job, home, a relationship, etc), but if we think of it as a learning experience/lesson, that loss can take on new meaning, right? I’d say so!

Well, I could continue to bring up more points, but I recommend reading the article for yourself. It’s lengthy and I definitely skipped over a lot of stuff. Hope you guys didn’t find this boring. I just thought it was interesting and wanted to share. 🙂  I totally wanted to post this on Friday, but I found myself literally trying to write about the entire article! I had to edit this down like a crazy person! *lol*

Ok, ’tis all for now. See ya next week!

-t

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