Building resilience; the power of positivity

Resilience is linked with positive emotions, suggesting that happy, more positive people are better equipped to be able to bounce back from challenges.

What is resilience?

Resilience refers to your ability to respond to setbacks and challenges. The American Psychological Association (APA) define resilience as “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.

The APA also argue that resilience can be learned – meaning, rather than being a characteristic you’re born with, resilience can develop from certain types of behaviours, thoughts and actions.

Traumatic events and circumstances can cause uncertainty and a variety of emotions – yet being resilient doesn’t mean you don’t feel emotional after tragedy. Rather, it’s about your ability to adapt to these setbacks.

The link between resilience and positivity

In 2009, researchers from the University of California’s School of Medicine looked at the role of resilience and positive emotions. Their research suggested that happy, positive people can better develop resources for living well and therefore become more satisfied.

In their prospective study, the authors argued that resilience and positive emotions maintain and build on one another, actively helping people to create desirable outcomes in life.

“Positive emotions are a powerful source of growth and change, predicting both individuals’ judgments about life and their skills for living well,” they wrote.

Research has also linked resilience to several key health benefits, including:

  • fewer behavioural problems in early childhood
  • better interpersonal and intrapersonal adjustment
  • faster cardiovascular recovery (following a laboratory stressor)
  • less depression and more thriving – specifically following a real-world tragedy

Developing resilience skills

If happy, positive people are more resilient, then developing resilience skills starts with positivity.

Changing your reactions is a key step in this process. According to the APA, you should aim to avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better.

Also, focus on positive emotions. According to Dr. Fredrickson, a leader in the field of positive psychology research, the top ten positive emotions are joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love.

Most importantly, practice self-care strategies. Healthy minds and bodies are better equipped to deal with challenges. Focus on your diet, exercise, and healthy habits – and, take the time to rest and do things that make you happy.

Other key steps to take to build resilience include:

  • Focus on building, maintaining and strengthening your connections – family, friends, community members
  • Turn a challenging situation into an opportunity for growth – you may find that you are able to develop a greater sense of appreciation for life or spiritualty, for example
  • Developing your self-confidence will also empower you to trust your instincts

Category: FamilyWellness

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Article by: Defence Health