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Imagine driving down a road and suddenly coming to a detour sign. Without warning, you are taken off course, heading from a smooth path onto a bumpy road. As you maneuver and adjust to the new circumstance, you strengthen your capacity to expand and adapt. This is resilience.
Through a change in course, we hone into our unique strengths and skills, and bounce back with personal achievement.
Our ability to adapt is easier when we are open to change. Change can range from a rescheduled meeting to losing a job. But what if we face drastic changes that we have not encountered before? What if it requires us to alter our plans in such a way that it feels scary and unfamiliar? When we try something new, it is natural to feel fear.
Deep inside, we all want certainty. But part of life is to persevere even if we get knocked down, we get back up. When we cultivate resilience, we have a ‘safety net’ that allows us to learn how to be flexible, think critically, and feel empowered so that we take inspired action to create new possibilities for ourselves and the world around us. There are two key ways to cultivate resilience: Emotional Mastery and Healthy Habits
The way we think and feel about a circumstance determines how we experience it. What causes one person to become frustrated by a detour in the road and lose focus, causes another person to become focused and drive with caution. Since our brain loves predictability, it seeks to keep us safe by repetition and familiarity. But, over time, it conditions us to operate automatically rather than creatively, yet there is a part of us that seeks to expand.
Ready to cultivate emotional resilience?
Get comfortable with the idea of change. As humans, we experience change all the time. Our body and mind undergo a series of changes—from cellular regeneration to
fluctuations in energy levels. It happens all day, every day. We are the dynamic flow of information and energy. We forget this because we are often consumed with our thoughts.
We experience roughly 70,000 thoughts each day, most of which are recycled and repetitive.
Every one of us has thoughts that go through our head. For instance, if we recall a time when a detour led to a missed meeting, our brain generates a series of thoughts surrounding how we might get late or stuck in traffic. This is because our brains are conditioned to associate thoughts with events.
One way to interrupt our brain is to present it with new thoughts, such as: “no two situations are exactly the same” and notice how the brain relaxes.
Another way is to start a gratitude journal. Each morning, jot down five things you are grateful for in your life. This allows the brain to focus on the positive aspects of your life and energizes you to feel more optimistic. There’s a saying that goes: “Where attention goes, energy flows.”
Since our mind also creates its own narrative, when we start to notice or witness our internal dialogue, we learn how to separate ourselves from our emotions and thoughts. We become aware of ourselves in the moment and bring a new insight and strength to a situation.
How do we do this? Meditation.
When we meditate, our fight or flight system turns off and the ‘rest and digest system’ turns on. Meditation allows our body to rest and heal and adapt to stress. During meditation, the body and mind have the opportunity to recover. There is shift from the activity in the mind to a place of stillness. In doing so, we turn away from the external world and remember our essential nature—the birthplace of our true resilience. When we connect at this deeper level, we access the body’s knowledge beyond thought, and we get in touch with our inner intelligence.
Meditation gives us the opportunity to access resilience and embrace the unfolding of events in our lives with more ease. When we are able to make choices that serve us and our well-being, we also serve the world around us.
Healthy habits, such as good sleep, hygiene, Ayurvedic nutrition, movement, and positive social connections, foster resilience. It provides us with a blueprint to cultivate health and well-being, which enables us to feel strong and resilient.
We all want to feel good and adapt to life’s challenges with ease but how can we establish new habits when we are busy? First thing, give yourself permission to go slow. The strange thing is, when you go at a pace that is uniquely yours, your brain will shift from the idea of competition to a place of sustainable change.
For example, if you want to get a good night’s sleep, dimming the lights in your home half an hour before bed will signal your body to relax. Just this small step can help your body-mind prepare for sleep. James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, states: “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.” So, if you want to eat Ayurvedic foods, the goal is not to make Ayurvedic meals every day, the goal is to become the person who is interested in mind-body balance.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but ask yourself what it means for you to have mind-body balance. When you align with your value system, you are able to access motivation and take inspired action. Each one of us has a different idea of what it means to have balance, and how we want to take small steps in order to incorporate it into our lives.
Cultivating resilience means creating small changes in different areas of our life in order to stretch our thinking, become a creative problem solver, and engage the mind, body, and spirit to help us bounce back.
Building emotional mastery and healthy habits can become a fun process when we have different tools that you can incorporate into our daily lives. It is something that you can cultivate every day. With emotional strength, kindness, and flexibility, you can become the person you are meant to be.
Discover the nature of resilience through the lens of compassion and care and connect with your wholeness in Journey to Well-being: Resilience, a four-part series with Daniel, available now in the Chopra App.