The Resilience Journal
We know what we want—
ways to grow from adversities instead of being crushed by them; freedom from negative patterns of thinking and behaving; paths out of tumultuous suffering and into balance and peace. This journal is designed to help you develop these. For each day of the year, it offers inspirational quotes from people ranging from Buddha to don Miguel Ruiz to Oprah, followed by writing prompts to inspire you to create your own routes to resiliency.
Completing the daily prompts will build resiliency skills, one of which is the ability to respond positively to the only thing that is constant in life—change
. Whether we want it to or not, everything—even the very planet we live on—is always changing. When we increase our acceptance of this it becomes easier to better appreciate good times and to recognize that tough times will eventually pass. Accepting change helps us slow down and resist the temptation to make rash, permanent decisions based upon impermanent circumstances. Instead, we can identify positive steps we can take while letting go of and moving past events we have no control over.
Another core component of resiliency is a clear perception of reality
. But I already have this
, you may say. But do you really? Misperception of reality is a common problem in our culture, such as the pervasive delusion that happiness comes only from buying the latest version of whatever, whether you need it or can afford it. Another illusion is that we are supposed to be doing something all the time—preferably several things at once—to the point where the mere idea of being still and quiet makes us nervous. Yet it is crucial to develop this capability so we can reconnect to the peace that is always within us. Just like if you dive deeply enough into an ocean you will find calm, if you dive deeply within yourself, you will find peace, the kind that helps you weather life’s fiercest storms. And emerge stronger for it.
An additional building block for resilient living is understanding we are not our thoughts
that our minds continually churn out because the nature of the mind is to think constantly, like the nature of the sea is to form waves. When we strengthen our skill to watch them like the surf as it ebbs and flows, their potential to sweep us away in worry, anger, sadness, and other uncentering emotions dissipates. We can ride them out, recognizing that just as they come, they go. We see who we really are beneath them instead of believing harsh self-judgments like “I’m stupid” when we make mistakes. We remain aware that we are intelligent people who make mistakes just because we are human.
Dozens of clinical studies prove that having strong personal relationships
is another key component of resiliency. Having a good support system makes it easier to manage life’s ups and downs. Research shows that people who have supportive family and friends tend to be happier, healthier, and live longer than those who isolate themselves. Connection with nature
enhances our resiliency, too. A 2015 Harvard study revealed that simply living in or near green spaces benefited research participants far beyond reducing their levels of depression, anxiety, and stress—it actually prolonged their lives. Living in spaces abundant with trees, plants, and other greenery reduced participants’ risks of dying from respiratory illnesses by 34 percent and cut their risk of dying from cancer by 13 percent. In fact, living in such green spaces lowered people’s risks of dying from anything other than accidents by a significant 12 percent. Though the vast majority of people in the study lived in urban areas, they enjoyed therapeutic areas in their yards, on their patios, terraces, or decks by surrounding themselves with plants and other greenery, demonstrating it does not take much to make a healing green space if you do not already have easy access to one.
Many studies by the National Institutes of Health and other research organizations prove that another core feature of resiliency is having a consistent spiritual practice
. This goes far beyond the scope of organized religion. Indeed, many people find the most healing spiritual practice is regularly taking in the majesty of the natural world through everything from walking in a park, to fishing on a lake, or gazing at the sky. Meditation also provides a foundation for a spiritual practice. Some benefit from the traditional concept of sitting cross-legged with their eyes closed, but the act of focusing on nearly any kind of repetitive action—from breathing to biking—can be meditative. No matter which spiritual practice you choose, it is clear that regularly engaging in it tends to improve overall health and longevity while decreasing depression, anxiety, substance abuse, insomnia, and chronic pain.
The daily passages in this book incorporate each of the major components of resiliency in a format for you to integrate them more fully into your life. Doing so can assist you in reframing traumatic situations that have caused lingering distress. One of the many studies that proves this is by Susan Lutgendorf, PhD, with the University of Iowa. The participants in her project who wrote expressively about the most stressful times of their lives gained a greater understanding of how they benefited by surviving them than those in the control group who wrote about generic events. Such regular journaling also improves memory and other cognitive abilities and strengthens social skills.
The benefits are physical, too. The Journal of the American Medical Association
reported research showing that four months after seventy patients with asthma and rheumatoid arthritis wrote twenty minutes for three consecutive days about the most stressful event of their lives, their lung functioning increased while their chronic pain decreased much more than patients in the project who only wrote about neutral happenings. The seventy patients also had less stress and were in better health than those in the control group. The psychologist who led the project, Joshua Smyth, PhD, said, “So writing helped patients get better, and also kept them from getting worse.” If such major improvements came from journaling therapeutically for only three days
, imagine the effects of doing so for each of the 365 days
that The Resilience Journal
In short, therapeutic writing is effective medicine you can use anytime, anywhere. So engage this book to forge your pathway to a life with much more resilience, balance, and peace of mind.