Resilience is the ability to roll with the punches, to be knocked down by adversity and come back even stronger. Some people naturally demonstrate this ability more than others, but according to research by psychologists including Norman Garmezy and Martin Seligman, resilience is a skill can that can be learned.
According to their research, resilience can be created where there was none by learning to change the way we explain events in three ways:
- from internal to external—It’s not personal. Learn to say, “This bad event is not my fault.”
- from global to specific—It’s not pervasive. Learn to say, “This one thing does not mean that something is fundamentally wrong with me.”
- from lasting to temporary—It’s not permanent. Learn to say, “I can change this situation.”
People who believe that they control events—rather than being controlled by them—tend to be more psychologically successful and less prone to depression. With apologies to Thomas Jefferson, instead of pursuing happiness, I’m working to learn resilience and expecting that happiness will follow.