Over the years I’ve learned that happiness is not the mere absence of suffering or temporary cessation of unhappiness, it’s less about elation and perfection, more about purpose and fulfilment, being connected to who you are. A big part of this is resilience, tough times will come to us all, it’s how you deal with it and bounce back that impacts your happiness.
It’s only the end of the road if you fail to make the turn, life has many twists and turns for us to navigate.
Growing up I thought I was the only one suffering and I thought that adults must have it all figured out and when I grew up I’d come to this enlightened point in my life where I knew all the answers, I thought that’s what coming of age was, imagine my disappointment! Now I’m grown up (some days) I realise everybody hurts, we are all fighting our own battles, pain is inevitable which is why resilience is so necessary. If suffering is inevitable then it seems silly that avoidance of pain is a major preoccupation in our modern world and the methods we employ to achieve this often contribute to more of the very pain we are trying to avoid; addictions, eating disorders, debt.
Unfortunately sorrow will always come, even to those who are happy but the good news is it will also go, impermanence is the nature of all things. This is good news if you’re going through a tough time, know that it won’t last but the same is also true when things are good and we are happy, this too will change, everything is impermanent. If we are able to accept this and enjoy what we have when we have it this goes a long way to helping us be more resilient. But our struggles make us what we are today, it’s because of the tough times we are strong and have learned the lessons of our life. It may be true that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. A monk once told me, mistakes are our teachers and we are never too old to learn. Where you are now is where you’re meant to be, trust it will turn out right in the end. There are no mistakes, only lessons, negative experiences teach us things and give us an opportunity to be stronger. As Paul Coelho said “Straight roads do not make skilful drivers”.
Resilience is something that we should be working on all the time, not just when we need it. You don’t learn to sail in stormy seas and a tree grows its roots in the good times to enable it to weather the storms, resilience is the same, don’t wait until you need it to begin to cultivate it. As we go through change we go through the process of losing something and adjusting to something new, almost like a grieving process. It begins with shock and denial, moves on to anger and eventually we reach acceptance and move on and get over it and the new becomes the norm, until it changes again.
BKS Iyengar said; “Change is not something we should fear. Rather it is something that we should welcome. For without change nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever more forward to become the person they’re meant to be”.
Having to go through the pain of letting go of the old enables us to find the growth and opportunities of the new. However that period of nothing between letting go of old before we’ve grasped hold of new is the most fearful bit, gap of unknowing and what often sends us running back to cling onto what we know rather than being left out in the dark grasping onto something that’s not there yet and no security, like trapeze artist who has let go of one bar but is suspended in mid air yet to grasp the next. But facing the fear and moving forward allows us to grow and achieve amazing things, only then we can look back on our journey and see how far we’ve come. Change is the nature of everything, nothing stays the same, change is the only constant. Within our lives and work we have a wide range of concerns, some of which we can influence and some we can’t. Make the best use of what is in your power and take the rest ass it happens, this puts you back in control. By focusing your energy and attention on doing something about the things you can control rather than those things you have no control over, you’ll feel more empowered and positive rather than feeling like a victim of circumstance.
Charles Darwin said “in nature it’s not the strongest most intelligent that succeeds, it’s those that are most adaptable to change”.
Top tips to cultivate resilience
- Know that change will always come and learn to adapt
- See change as an opportunity – ask not what you are walking away from but rather what you are walking towards
- Look after yourself – be well
- Remember it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to it
- There are no mistakes in life, only lessons and negative experiences teach us things and give us an opportunity to be stronger
- Where you are is where you’re meant to be