Anytime we suffer a gut punch, it’s easy to lose track of the goal and zero in on what went wrong, “why me” thinking, and everything we’ve lost along the way. To bounce back, we have to change our mindset from “shoulda, coulda, woulda” to one that is forward-focused.
These five hacks below can help you achieve that elusive quality called resilience:
1. Be grateful
When you shift your perspective, you completely change your experience of the world around you. No matter what your situation, your mindset will always shape your reality. We all have challenges but if you look around, you can usually find someone who is dealing with challenges worse than your own. So to begin, we can be grateful for our challenges – they are teaching us how to deal with adversity, they are making us stronger, and in most cases they could be worse than they are.
Start by asking yourself, “In this moment, what am I grateful for?” Depending on your circumstances, your first response might be, “nothing.” If that’s the case, start with the smallest most basic thing you can think of and go from there. Recognizing your circumstances are fluid and identifying what you already appreciate creates a mindset for abundance. Being grateful for what you already have is the first step to hacking resilience because it allows you to open yourself up to receive even more.
2. Head butt adversity
Resilience isn’t just our capacity to stand there and take the slings and arrows of life, it’s the power and agility in which we respond. It turns out, we don’t have a limited amount of resilience and that’s good news because when bad things happen, over and over, layered on top of each other, our resilience doesn’t have to tap out.
We can build unlimited strength, agility, and speed in our response by learning to effectively “bounce,” and we can do that even before adversity hits. A situation only has the meaning you give it. You get to decide if it is something that will stop you in your tracks or if you will frame it as a challenge that offers a opportunity to learn and grow.
For every negative or difficult event that happens to you today, reframe the meaning you give it in your life. The circumstance itself has no power over you, but your response to it does. When a difficult situation arises, ask yourself these two questions: How could this be an opportunity in disguise and what does this make possible?
See yourself as the one in charge of your own fate, and seize that opportunity. Even in the difficult moments, by deliberately choosing the meaning you give to those moments and the power they have over you, you can build resilience and thrive.
“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Ernest Hemingway
3. Cut yourself some slack
We get discouraged about our life when we compare it to others, something that has become especially toxic in the age of social media. What people post on Facebook is their “highlight reel.” The rest of their life is pretty ordinary so if you’re comparing the totality of your life with the highlight reel of others, you’re bound to feel a little alone and discouraged when bad things happen.
The truth is, we all have setbacks. Every single one of us with no exception. Allow yourself a little breathing room when adversity hits. Breathe deeply as often as possible, and give yourself a little time to catch your breath, lick your wounds, and come back swinging.
4. Discover the lesson
Everything that happens in our life is an opportunity for growth. If we allow every life event to shape us in a positive way, we will gain something, even from circumstances that seem to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
Viktor Frankl was a Swiss psychiatrist who watched many of his fellow prisoners in Auschwitz commit suicide after losing their entire families to genocide. He too had lost his family and even contemplated suicide until one day he had a vision of himself on stage, speaking about how he survived, and he knew he still had something left to do. It gave him hope and the will to live, to survive and thrive, and discover meaning in the moment.
When we frame adversity as an opportunity to learn something about ourselves, it gives meaning to the suffering. This allows us to see put the suffering in context and no longer feel that our challenges are pointless.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor E. Frankl
5. See the opportunities
A family member’s protracted illness may bring other family members closer as they team up to take care of their loved ones. Being let go from a mediocre job may lead to an opportunity you never would have seen if you were still working.
When bad things happen, we tend to assume that everything about the circumstance is negative. But this isn’t really true. No matter how terrible things have become, there is always something good that will come out of something bad. Always. The problem is we don’t usually see it in the moment, because we’re just not looking for it.
For every negative event you experience, the sooner you choose to seek and embrace the good that could come out of it, the quicker you will move forward and experience the resilience you never thought possible.