9 Important Traits for Activating your Ability to Thrive
If there’s one resounding theme in life, it’s that change is certain. Change happens when one stage of life ends and catapults us into another. It happens when life stuns us with a sudden event that changes us forever.
The tragic loss of my 16-year old son was the most staggering. You’ve heard it before… “She lost her child and never recovered.” That was my fear. No one is prepared for loss, especially that of a child. People kept saying to me, time heals all wounds… just give it time.
I discovered “time heals all wounds” is a myth.
As months of grieving went by, I discovered it’s not time at all, it’s what we do with that time that begins the healing process. Healing starts with our ability to activate something we all have... Resilience.
Wikipedia defines resilience as “the ability to cope with change,” and “being able to withstand or recover quickly from difficulties.”
Resilience is the ability to not just bounce back, but bounce forward.
Each one of us has experienced changes caused by life-altering events. Some are stage-of-life occurrences, like an empty nest, aging, retirement. Others emerge from unplanned circumstances like loss, divorce, financial ruin, or a health crisis.
The chapter you leave behind triggers each new chapter. The unwritten pages of the future might feel uncertain, even scary at times. The ability to activate resilience guarantees your ability to move forward.
Life events, planned or unplanned, drive the cycles of change in one’s life. We might resist change for a while, but then we find ourselves stuck, caught in the famine of the soul, asking what’s next?
Resilience is the only prescription for restoring the soul’s potential
Why do some people bounce back, and others don’t? It’s resilience. No matter what the circumstances, personally or professionally, your quality of life depends on it.
It’s within our nature to be resilient. I grew up just down the road from the “Lone Cypress” tree on the Monterey Peninsula and watched as it withstood time, growing from a craggy rock jutting out to the sea. It can’t help but thrive! You have that potential too.
Your business life has cycles too. The economy might dictate doom, but resilient people remain focused and flexible. They know the importance of keeping up with current practices and technology to ride the highs and lows.
Look at the number of people who were reluctant to use a computer! My 91-year old mom is a volunteer at the local hospital and working with a computer was mandatory. It changed the quality of her life. She’s able to volunteer, connect with people, and continue to live a relevant life because she was willing to learn something new.
Resilience is the significant key to the quality of your personal and professional life.
Let’s explore strengths and practices of resilient people
1. Perpetual optimism
Let optimism prevail. How you handle the past and present will predict your future. Optimists tend to bounce back faster from painful experiences than pessimists. According to Psychologist Charles Carver, PhD, “They stay in the struggle because they expect the ship to right itself.” They are adaptable, and don’t stay down too long. They rebound and begin again.
2. Use fear as motivation
Ask any successful person if they felt fear going to their next level, they will tell you yes, but they made fear work for them. Stephen Pressfield in his book The War of Art says that Actor, Henry Fonda was so nervous going on stage, he’d throw up before each performance, even at 75! In other words, fear doesn’t always go away, and fear isn’t necessarily negative. Fear can indicate something you want so much, that it frightens you. Go for it!
3. Be the highest expression of who you are in your professional life
We spend a huge part of our lives at work. Our jobs should reflect who we are. Our trustworthiness, knowledge, and values are judged in the workplace. The stability of a business depends on its mastery of riding the waves of change. It takes a resilient leader.
I had great success when I first became a real estate agent. I thought… I’m a great agent! I have so much business! I’m winning awards! Then the market crashed, and I blamed my lack of success on the market. If I was such a great agent, why was I failing? I had to look at a new way of doing business. I learned to diversify and expand my area of expertise. I networked and made new connections. I learned to be a good agent, in spite of the market.
4. Do something to break the pattern of feeling blue
It’s called a “pattern interrupt.” If you’re feeling down, visit a zoo, a pet shelter, the ocean, or a park. Call an old friend, or take a trip to the grocery store. It will force you to get out of the house and break the pattern. Make a point of saying something nice to someone you encounter. It will make their day and in turn, their happiness will bounce right back to you.
5. Look great most of the time
How do you show up in the world? Your appearance is the first thing people notice. A huge part of looking great is personal health. It’s a fact we need exercise, sleep, and healthy eating to be at our best. How we dress is one more aspect of looking great. When we’re grocery shopping, at spin class, or at work, we’re assessed within seconds. I frequently run into clients at the gym or the grocery store. When you look good, you feel good. It doesn’t take much effort to put on a nice pair of workout pants and top instead of a torn tee shirt. Your next potential client or even soul mate could be the one you meet over peaches in the produce section. It’s happened to me!
6. Keep a mindfulness daily practice
Successful people rely on a daily mindfulness ritual to inspire them. Huffington Post Writer, Carolyn Gregoire, wrote in her article The Daily Habit of Outrageously Successful People, that meditation is the top priority for more and more leaders in the business world.
Try daily meditation, writing in a journal, or reading inspired works. It elevates your emotional and physical well-being. Our brains are bombarded with thousands of thoughts every day… Wouldn’t you trade 15 minutes of your morning to guarantee equanimity and success?
7. Failure is a better teacher than success
Failures are an important lesson in learning how to bounce back from difficult times. Keep careful watch over feelings of failure. It can be a destructive force and keep you weak and small. Failure is a great guide to your future. It tells you what didn’t work. When a reporter asked Thomas Edison, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Resilient people know the next failure puts them one step closer to success.
8. Have a playful, creative spirit
Many people believe they’re not creative, but everyone is. Just look back to your childhood. Did you build a sand castle at the beach? Did you finger paint on giant sheets of butcher paper? Did you mold animals with clay? Then, it didn’t matter how good you thought it was, or what others thought, you did it because it made you happy.
What killed your joy, sweet child? A teacher’s grade? A jealous friend? Remember, art is evaluated by the way it makes people feel. Everyone’s opinion is different. Don’t let a negative comment from the past spoil your fun forever! Return to a creative life!
9. Sometimes we need help
If you’re struggling in your personal or professional life, consider this the perfect time to create your Dream Team. Make use of your friends, a coach, a therapist, a mentor, or enroll in a program that will guide you.
My whole life changed when I surrendered to the fact I needed help. I use the word “surrender” because my unyielding pride kept saying, I should be able to do this on my own.
In nature, when a female elephant is sick or wounded, the other females form a circle around her. They protect her, nurture her, and watch over her until she is strong enough to stand on her own. This is how my circle is. When my son died, they were all there, circling around me until I could stand on my own. When was the last time you said, can you help me?
If life throws an unexpected event your way, you ask, “Will I survive?”
Yes, you will. Recognize your challenge as the beginning of the next chapter in your life story. Lean into it and armor yourself with the shield of resilience.
After my son died, I could only see a future of despair, but his loss forced me to uncover a new me, a new life. I often wonder who I might have been if I had not experienced such tragedy. But then, I wonder who I might I have been if I’d never experienced love, anger, hurt, or joy. Each challenge forced me to discover my own strength, and each time I was called to a larger life.
I suffered the greatest loss a parent could ever imagine, but I survived. Right now, you could be struggling with loss, heartache, or an unexpected life-altering event. But, you have a choice…
Learn to bounce forward and dare the “new you” to emerge. Choose resilience. It’s there inside of you, challenging you, nudging you, and supporting you as you take the next step.
Previously published on Thrive Global