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What are the characteristics of those who survive life? How is that some can bounce back from adversity while others are not able to do the same? There are a number of things that could be mentioned as helpful in getting through tough times, but I want to name one that in my observation seems to be the most prevalent characteristic of those who make it in life: Resilience!

A good place to start is with a dictionary definition of the word resilience:

“The power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.”

Why do some seem to be more resilient than others? Life is going to bring difficulties to everyone’s life. There is no such thing as a pain-free life. Obstacles and problems are equal opportunity visitors. I believe resilience can be improved upon in our lives. For some, it will be a major attitude adjustment. How do you know if you are resilient and how can I can develop a resilient spirit in my life? A few suggestions:

  • You do not define your life by your past, including past tragedies. Everyone has a past. Some have experienced severe traumas and oftentimes these are the people who show the most resilience. In fact, they would not have survived had they not been resilient. For believers, you can turn it over to the Lord and know that He can make all things new. Find a way to deal with the issues of the past and move on and do not let them define you.
  • You do not seek revenge. Revenge is like poison. You think that by drinking the poison you are going to harm the other person when in fact you are killing yourself. You may need to talk to a counselor or a friend but as soon as possible, forgive and move on. Those who are consumed with bitterness and continually plot revenge are not resilient or healthy!
  • You do not hold grudges. Some are not seeking revenge, but they do hold onto a grudge. As you move through disappointment and get some distance between you and the event, you need to let it go and move on. This is what resilient people do.
  • You have a system of support. This could include family, friends, pastors, counselor, and peers. You have people who will listen and encourage and pray for you. You are not alone.
  • You have some optimism. You do not have to be Zig Ziglar, but can you see that there is hope and that you are getting better and not everything is wrong in your life?
  • Practice self-care. Do you exercise? Do you get enough sleep? Do the things that will lead you to maintain physical, spiritual, emotional and mental health.
  • Do you admit that you may have been wrong? Ouch! Some of our problems do happen through no fault of our own. Yet, there are some that we contributed to and caused. No one likes to admit this but this is a part of being a human. Admit when you’re wrong, ask for forgiveness, rectify what you can and move on! There is no need to park here forever, take an inventory, be introspective admit your part and move forward.
  • Focus on the today. There comes a time when you have to put the issue behind you. One sure test that we are moving on is our ability to focus on the task at hand. Today needs your full attention. If you live in the past you will never be present in your today! Do what you can to resolve things from the past, then accept it and move on. Put your energy into where you are now and what you need to do now.
  • Find the meaning, learn from it and move ahead with life. Many of the best lessons I have learned came about as a result of going through a hard place. I have learned to trust God with my life and my problems. Another lesson I have learned is what not to do next time, and how I can be a better person. Do not let anything in your life go to waste, learn from each and every problem as well as each victory.

The inability of dealing with disappointment is what keeps some people perpetually paralyzed by negativity. A way to deal with disappointment is to allow God to help you become more resilient.

You can do it! Stretch and grow!

Resilience word on wooden table
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