10 Tips for Developing Resilience

Resilience or the ability to ‘bounce back’ after encountering problems is an essential trait. Inevitably, life will throw up some apparently adverse situations, and being able to deal with such circumstances in a positive and creative way is often a measure of how happy and successful a person is.

Scientific studies have shown that resilient people show lower levels of depression and are more likely to develop personally as a result of adversity than people with low levels of resilience.

Some people do seem to be more resilient by nature but, like most things, resilience is a trait which can be developed. The following are ways of doing so.

1.     Develop a positive self image. Everything starts in the mind – resilient people think well of themselves and see themselves in a positive way.

2.     Focus on building and maintaining relationships. Studies have shown that resilient people tend to have strong social networks – family, friends and colleagues are a great source of support when crises occur.

3.     Show appreciation. Being able to focus on the good things in your life and not dwell on problems will keep you in a positive mindset and help you to be more effective.

4.     See the good. We’ve all heard the ‘glass half full’ mentality – resilient people tend to see stressful events or crises as temporary or even as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than as unbearable problems.

5.     Be proactive. The holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, noticed that people in the camps who believed they had some measure of control over their circumstances were far more likely to survive than people who felt they were passive victims of circumstance. Resilient people take responsibility and take effective action to change things.

6.     Accept circumstances that cannot be changed. Some things simply cannot be altered and resilient people accept this, not wasting energy on trying to do the impossible.

7.     Develop goals and take appropriate action to achieve them. Having a sense of where you are going is important. Glitches and setbacks are inevitable, but resilient people keep the destination in mind.

8.     Take a long-term view and keep in mind a broader context. When seen from a bird’s eye perspective, problems tend to become less important.

9.     Be optimistic. Resilient people maintain a hopeful outlook, expecting positive outcomes. Of course, this can tip over to a ‘Pollyanna’ mentality but it is no more realistic to be negative and pessimistic than to expect the best.

10.  Keep learning. Resilient people are determined to learn useful lessons from setbacks and problems. Looking back, we might realize that we learned the most from what seemed to be the most difficult of circumstances.

Resilience is very often the factor which leads some people to overcome immense obstacles to become successful. Look at many well known, successful and wealthy people with humble or even deprived beginnings and you will see resilience in action. Take steps to develop resilience in your own life – it will serve you well.

Mark Harrison writes at Check out his Habit Builder Course, and get his RSS feed here.

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16 Responses to 10 Tips for Developing Resilience

  1. Gordie says:

    I’ve never really thought much about the term resilience. Is it the same as determination?

    Knowing that we can’t control everything is really important otherwise every negative external can bring us down.

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  3. It’s hard to accept resilience when we know it is there but if we can boost our potential with habit forming positive tips within it creates a whole better awareness for us and we don’t predomimantly follow the negative impulsions along with us. But the biggest factor is knowing were not perfect and that we all follow the understanding that control of the negativeity is not so awareness , but just allowing us the allowance that we are not going to take ourselves downward spirel with it.

  4. Good points. I remember learning about the concentration camps and how survivors definitely fared better when they believed they had some control over their lives.

    Even in pretty helpless situations, we can find ways that we still have control. Focusing on those parts while not dwelling on the uncontrollable parts will greatly improve your happiness.

  5. M. A. Tohami says:

    From my own personal experience, what made me come back after any setback is my passion. Passion always gives me hope. It helps me be patient and persevere.

    When you find that THING that you’re extremely passionate about and willing to live and die for, that’s when you become RESILIENT.

    Be Passionate, Be Resilient.

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  7. Mark, thanks for the pertinent reminders: crisp and to the point. Gordie, this is a short answer to a question that deserves a much longer one but here goes:

    Resilience, as I have come to understand is what you might call an emergent state, just as a tornado emerges from rising hot air and descending cold air in the right conditions it forms a hurricane, so when certain beliefs about a person’s abilities, the future, their outlook on life and the way they process information come together they form resilience. It really is a combination of many attitudes, values and beliefs and can be constructed …. I think determination is but one part of it and even that is often comprised of more than one belief about carrying on, failure, succeeding, self image and so on.

    The best work on this I have seen is that of Michael Hall who has modelled resilience and written about it in various articles.

    Thanks Mark.

  8. Dandy says:

    Hi Mark,
    Wonderful post. I couldn’t agree more with you. Alot of us are more resilent than we think. Being strong in who we are and standing for our convictions makes us unable to easily crumble. Thanks for the positivity Mark!


  9. These are some great pointers, many I have learned to implement myself, especially over this past year!

  10. Great post Mark.

    I think the last 2 points may be the greatest. Being optimistic runs along the lines of having faith. You must know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will get to where you want to go. If you don’t believe 100% that you will get there it just isn’t going to happen. You must also believe 100% even when others doubt you.

    The ability to learn from your mistakes is also priceless. Let go of the ego and use your setbacks to your advantage. It’s not always about working harder, but working smarter.

    Thanks for posting,

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  13. tim says:

    Do you know who owns the rights to the photo for this post?

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