INSIGHT: Living With Resilience

By Paul Hagen, Director of Student Well-Being

Life is full of difficulty. There are difficult interactions with peers, family members, and friends. There are difficult tasks that seem impossible and unending. There are difficult decisions to make, difficult conversations to have, and difficult schedules to maintain. And, as if that weren’t enough, life throws us difficult moments of sadness, sickness, and loss. Yes, life is full of difficulty, and that is often when we hear the little voice of doubt whispering (or sometimes yelling) discouragement.

We all face trouble from time-to-time. We all deal with setbacks, slowdowns, and roadblocks. Adversity is part of the universal human condition, and none of us are immune to it. While our instinct is to do everything we can to avoid or ignore the discomfort of adversity, the better tact is to face it and move through it. This allows us to develop resilience, which is the capacity for facing adversity, overcoming challenges, and managing disappointments that come our way.

The word “resilience” comes from two Latin words. “Re” which means “back” and “salire” which means to “bounce.” So quite literally “resilience” means to bounce back. How do we teach this ever-important life skill? How can we prepare ourselves to bounce back or rebound from the difficulties we will inevitably face? Here are a few tips for building resilience:

  1. Find and Foster Your Sense of Purpose. When we have meaning and purpose in our lives, we are less likely to become mired in self-doubt, self-pity, and self-defeat when facing tough times. With our eyes firmly fixed on the goals ahead, we can keep moving forward even when the road is rocky.
  2. Invest in Meaningful Relationships with Others. Humans are social creatures. We need to do life with others. When we feel a deep sense of belonging, connection, and community, we are more capable of managing challenges that come our way. And, when we need that extra support, we know who to turn to.
  3. Practice Positive Thinking. Flexibility, optimism, and self-confidence provide the mental framework for resilience to thrive. Practice positive self-talk and believe in your own abilities to cope with the challenges you face.
Life isn’t all sunshine and roses, but with resilience we can bounce back from the difficulties we face. This fall let’s all commit to practicing resilience!