“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow” – Albert Einstein
As human beings, we spend a great deal of our time thinking about our
past, present and our futures, and how we think about each one of those, our
attitudes to them and the attention that we give them can deeply affect us. If
we dwell too much in the past, we can be stuck in regret or hankering after the
‘good old days’. By living too much in the future, we can cause ourselves
needless anxiety or live in the fantasy land of ‘what if’, and miss out on
what’s happening today.
If we follow the wise words of Albert Einstein we can acknowledge all three places and hold them in balance in order to create a harmonious life.
Moving toward a new year, never mind a new
decade, is a powerful time. The ideal time for Reflective 0bservation,
one of the most powerful ways to learn. Taking the time to reflect on the past decade,
and more specifically the past year, allows us to look carefully at what we
did, what we experienced, what choices we were faced with, why and how we made those
choices and how they made us feel. Observing in this intentional way means
looking from a new perspective, one with no urgency or intended outcome,
observing from a place of patience with a curious mind. If we make the time to
really do this effectively then we are better placed to make informed choices
for the present and future that we wish to have. This type of learning is
sustainable, powerful and embedded because it helps turn lived experience into
gentle retrospective analysis helping us to find and make meaning of our lives.
Find the time, in solitude, to reflect on your
year and ask yourself these few questions…
What do I want to let go of completely?
What do I want to cultivate and nurture?
What do I
want less of and what do I want more of?
What am I
going to do differently?
the world notice when I do this?
What will I
notice when I do this?
Welcome in the New Year and the new decade with positive intention. May you be well and at ease.
And may you find the Authentic Resilience you need to continue engaging in the world with an open-heart filled with loving kindness, compassion, courage and trust.
Realistic Optimism can feel elusive during times when reports of corruption, economic pressure, gender based violence and crime flood our digital screens … add a dash of year-end fatigue, plus life’s usual surprises and family dynamics and the festive season can either not come quickly enough or feel daunting and scary. Either way pessimism is not the answer, but neither is blind optimism. Realistic Optimism, the knowledge that you will prevail in the end no matter what, is the way forward. And yes, optimism can be learned … as discovered by Tim Dowling in this acerbic and pretty funny article from The Guardian
“Promise me you’ll always remember; you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – Christopher Robin to Pooh (A.A. Milne)
We love this quote by our childhood favourite, AA Milne. When going through difficult times it can be so hard to think that we have the strength to carry on. We doubt ourselves, doubt our ability to cope, that we have what it takes and that we will get through. Resilience is built in us all through going through difficult times. So even if you don’t feel like you’re going to be able to get through this time, dig deep. You ARE braver that you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens” – Khalil Gibran
In the 3rd R of Authentic Resilience we talk about
Response-ability. No, that is not a spelling mistake, it
is about our Ability to Respond to what happens to us in life. Much of
what happens to us in life is not our doing, we have not created it -it is
random. In such circumstances one can feel like
a victim, be outraged as we did nothing to
create this, we did not bring this upon
ourselves. How is it possible then, when bad
things happen to us, to develop a stance that
stays open and curious, that accepts the good and the bad, and maintains perspective?
One answer to this is an attitude of gratitude. This can seem like an impossible feat, especially when times are tough, but the secret is a daily practice of gratitude. Start right now – start today! One of the practices which we introduce to those on our Authentic Resilience Workshops is starting a Three Good Things practice: at the end of every day list – either to yourself in your head, or in a journal, or to family members, three things which you are grateful for today. On bad days it can be a struggle to name even one! Perhaps it could just be the fact that you are grateful that you got through the day and are now in bed. And here’s the tricky bit..you can’t just ramble off the same things every day, “I’m grateful for my home, my family, my dog” – you need to be creative and notice the small things that you can be grateful for.
This is a practice that works. Why don’t you commit to do the Three Good Things practice for the next month, starting from today. And check in with yourself at the end of the month – is it easier to spot the things we can be grateful for? How are you feeling now? And have you managed to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
Every day, all around the world, tiny earthquakes occur multiple times. Most often they are tiny, they can’t be felt, they register really low down on the Richter Scale. At other times, fortunately far less frequently, massive earthquakes cause widespread decimation across whole regions and cause enormous loss of property and life. Often in earthquake prone areas, buildings are constructed to be ‘earthquake proof’, with a strong central core yet with a degree of flexibility, so that a building is able to move with the earth’s movements rather than standing rigid and become damaged. Where structures are not built with the same strict building codes (unfortunately all too often in the poorest areas of the world), we see devastation.
We can liken this to our own lives. Every day we
withstand small seismic shocks which we hardly register – traffic, crime,
dealing with difficult people. Occasionally in our lives we will suffer a
massive earthquake, the ones that register 8 or 9 on the Richter Scale -the
death of a loved one, a divorce, a life-changing health diagnosis. And in
between that are plenty of other seismic shocks which can threaten to damage
us, shake our core.
How do we become like earthquake proof buildings? The answer is by investing in ourselves just as we invest in a building. By building and cultivating our resilience before the earthquake strikes we enable ourselves to be better equipped to withstand the everyday shocks and the big ones. The quakes which would see others who haven’t invested in themselves be shaken to the ground.
“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient”. We are often asked whether resilience is something that people are born with, or whether it something that you can develop – and the answer is both. We are all born with some degree of resilience- the human race would not have survived without it! However some people appear to be born with naturally higher levels of resilience than others. Author W Thomas Boyce, in his book “The Orchid and the Dandelion” refers to “orchid children’ who need delicate handling, and ‘dandelion children’ who are hardier and seem more resilient.
Whatever our inbuilt levels of resilience, the good news is that we ALL have the capacity to cultivate greater levels of resilience. Whilst resilience can be developed and honed by through going through difficult times, learning the tools of Authentic Resilience can also help us ‘resilience proof’ ourselves, preparing the way for when the shocks and stresses of life hit us.
I was struck recently by someone saying that they were ‘suffering from stress’ and started reflecting on the nature of stress. In her TEDTalk ‘How to make stress your friend”, Kelly McGonigal talks about how we need to actually embrace stress and make friends with it, not be afraid of it. That stress is actually a GOOD thing! Stress, or perhaps it could be called ‘ increased pressure’ can – up to a point – make us perform better.
When we are under increased pressure – the deadline draws near, finances are tight, we find ourselves in a high stakes situation – our attention is increased – and this is a good thing! However, when we reach a certain point (and that point is different for all of us ) our anxiety levels also increase, which bring about physiological changes in our bodies. And that’s when we feel like we are ‘suffering from stress’. Given that we will all face times when we under increased pressure, how do we increase our capacity to deal with it, so that we are able to withstand more?
In our second Five R’s of Authentic Resilience, we talk about the aspects we need to cultivate in our everyday lives, from Gratitude and Flexibility, to setting times for Reflection and Renewal, and grappling with Meaning and Purpose. We need to put these aspects into practice in our everyday lives to counter our stress levels so that we are more able to deal with pressure and less likely to feel we are ‘suffering with stress’.
Authentic Resilience is a multi-faceted capacity that requires dedication and practise. Our Ten R’s Model keeps on developing and growing organically as we learn from the hundreds of people who come through our workshops. An important part of authentic resilience is the ability to grow, adapt, change and learn on an ongoing basis… that means not holding on too tightly to our own perspectives and hard earned opinions and rather being willing to remain open to new possibilities. “Let go of who you think you are and become who you might be” Janine Shepard is a thought-provoking sentiment. It is true that a leopard never changes its spots … but humans change all the time, both in noticeable ways with visible paradigm shifts and in subtle yet powerful ways on a daily basis. Every experience, every thought, every emotion goes into the pot of making up who we are. We are constantly learning, constantly shifting and constantly changing – best we learn to flow with change rather than fight against it as it is the only constant.
One of the BIG concepts we talk about within our resilience work is that of impermanence, which falls within the 6th R – Relentlessness of Change. It is a concept that can take a life time to wrap our heads and hearts around.
Impermanence acknowledges that everything changes, continually, whether we want it to or not. When we cling to what was, we don’t allow for what is and what might be. The concept of impermanence is about “allowing”, about surrendering our idea of how we think things should be and embracing what is.