Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!---On Resilience

First off, Happy 4th of July! I've talked about this before, but one of the most pivotal books in my Comeback has been Dr. Alex Lickerman's The Undefeated Mind. I found that he wrote a fantastic Huff Post article on how we can learn resilience that I'm going to print an excerpt from here. (Here's the full version)

Sometimes such a victory requires a single dramatic intervention fraught with risk; at other times, a series of multiple, small interventions whose individual effects may be minor but whose collective power is vast...Learning to accept pain, for example, really does make pain easier to withstand, yet sometimes only slightly. But when added to a fierce determination to accomplish an important mission, as well as to an expectation that accomplishing that mission will require the feeling of even more pain, strength often appears that makes large problems seem abruptly small. Though the effort required to maintain a high life condition often seems great, in reality it only needs to be wise...sometimes we only need to pull a lever a few degrees to move our lives in a radically different direction.

For resilience really can be learned. As amorphous as the concept of "inner strength" often seems, our ability to survive and even thrive in the face of adversity, our ability to push on through disappointment and discouragement when obstacles arise in the pursuit of our goals, is as measurable a quantity as is the strength of our biceps. And like the strength of our biceps, it can also be increased.
This, then, is what it means to possess what I call an undefeated mind: not just to rebound quickly from adversity or to face it calmly, even confidently, without being pulled down by depression or anxiety, but also to get up day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade -- even over the course of an entire lifetime -- and attack the obstacles in front of us again and again and again until they fall, or we do. An undefeated mind isn't one that never feels discouraged or despairing; it's one that continues on in spite of it. Even when we can't find a smile to save us, even when we're tired beyond all endurance, possessing an undefeated mind means never forgetting that defeat comes not from failing but from giving up. An undefeated mind doesn't fill itself with false hope, but with hopes to find real solutions, even solutions it may not want or like. An undefeated mind is itself what grants us access to the creativity, strength, and courage necessary to find those real solutions, viewing obstacles not as distractions or detours off the main path of our lives but as the very means by which we can capture the lives we want. Victory may not be promised to any of us, but possessing an undefeated mind means behaving as though it is, as though to win we only need wage an all-out struggle and work harder than everyone else, trying everything we can, and when that fails trying everything we think we can't, in full understanding that we have no one on whom we can rely for victory but ourselves. Possessing an undefeated mind, we understand that there's no obstacle from which we can't create some kind of value. We view any such doubt as a delusion. Everyone -- absolutely everyone -- has the capacity to construct an undefeated mind, not just to withstand personal traumas, economic crises, or armed conflicts, but to triumph over them all.
Attaining this state may seem impossible, an ability granted only to an extraordinary few like Viktor Frankl or that great champion of freedom, Nelson Mandela. But the tools those luminaries used to achieve their goals are available to us all. Extraordinary people may be born, but they can also be made. We need only look around at the number of people in everyday life who demonstrate the same resilience as a Viktor Frankl or a Nelson Mandela for proof that an undefeated mind isn't nearly so rare a thing as we think.

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