Sometimes ideas appear to you at the right time, finding their way to you when you need them the most. Today, I went to a talk hosted by the School of Life on how to cultivate resilience and bounce back from adversity.
The talk discussed that rather avoiding bad things when they happen or getting thrown off course we need to find ways to accept and learn from it. It isn’t about merely “getting over it” or “moving on” but rather it is about accepting loss and change as part of our everyday lives. I think that this is fundamentally a positive outlook and one that resonates for me, I have always felt that it isn’t what happens to you that is important but how you deal with it and what you learn from it.
However, accepting that adversity is a natural part of life or inevitable is challenging. It means we need to embrace the idea that we can’t control everything. The workshop advised us to consider adopting some thinking from the Stoics (who are frankly a bit too miserable for me) by accepting that adversity in life is inevitable and that we should mentally prepare for its occurrence. By expecting it to happen, apparently we will be less thrown off course when it happens. While I completely understand the logic here, there is a fine line between anticipating change and being fatalistic.
Resilience is affected by the neural pathways in the brain which were created in first five years (although in teenage years they also get re-wired which can fundamental change how people respond to situations). In our early years, we develop core beliefs and mindsets which impacts our coping abilities in later life. Resilience can be learnt in later life but like lots of other behaviour change it requires changing ingrained habits and mindsets. There are lots of exercises and ways to retrain your brain and responses but it requires regular practice to do so.
I was taken with the idea that we need some ‘grit in our lives’. It is the ‘daily grit’ which helps teach us things, helps us adapt and grow as a person. It is the ‘grit’ which helps us create and appreciate beauty. Like oysters, we can create shiny and beautiful things by embracing the difficult aspects that life throws at us.