Saturday, April 6, 2019

Real Resilience

     We all would love to be resilient - not just a bit more, but resilient to the max. What do we really mean by that? Perhaps superheros like Superman or Spiderman fit the bill. But where do such ideas even come from? Is this just wishful thinking?
     We're constantly overwhelmed by news of disasters, natural & human-induced, past, present & impending. Due to our "negativity bias," fearful negativity unfortunately grabs & holds our attention infinitely more powerfully than do dramatic acts of human decency.
     Each and every day, the vast majority of us - billions around the world - work hard all day, doing our best both at work, as well as to look after our loved ones. This never makes the news.
     During catastrophic natural disasters, like the 2004 tsunami that hit Thailand, local people whose loved ones, homes & possessions had literally been just swept away, were selflessly helping others, even tourists - most of whom lost nothing more than luggage.
     After what seems like an increasingly frequent natural event - learning that one has only a few months to live due to incurable, late-stage cancer - roughly 40% of such people, experience post-traumatic growth. Instead of remaining "shipwrecked" following such a sudden, total demolition of their self-concept & worldview, they display the remarkable capacity - that we ALL share - to 'rise from the ashes' with a more accurate, infinitely more resilient self-concept & worldview. (See: and Elizabeth Lesser. “Broken Open. How Difficult Times Can Help us Grow.” Villard, 2005.)

     Human beings have an infinitely wide spectrum of perspectives, worldviews, self-concepts, capacities, talents, etc. During natural disasters there are many, many 'unsung heroes,' as well as some looters. Along with a few saints, and the vast majority of decent, honest folk, a small fraction of us are selfish, bitter & miserable, not just after a devastating diagnosis, but even under enviably favorable circumstances, including a long life. The human species is "like a box of chocolates"! But let's remember that we ALL have a wonderful capacity for amazing resilience.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world.
Most people exist, that is all.” Oscar Wilde

“Death is our friend precisely because it brings us into absolute and passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love.” Rainer Maria Rilke

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty ‘yes!’ to your adventure.” Joseph Campbell

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