The Art of Resilience


Does everyone have an inbuilt capacity to deal with adverse situations? Would it be right to say that every human being opts for different strategies to cope with and overcome difficult situations and adversities that befall them? Or is resilience a blessing bestowed only on a few? I have not been able to stop myself from ruminating on this topic since I visited a friend who is battling cancer.

Things which I could ignore earlier became serious concerns with my expanding experiences in life. Isn’t it true that, as we grow up, the list of adversities befalling us keeps increasing? And it seems that the universe has made an unflinching decision to test our efficacy to deal with problems as we grow up.

The realization that this is the reality of life often makes us feel that childhood days were the best. No doubt childhood days are beautiful. But if we are ready to accept the reality, it would become evident that life is not only about happiness, pleasure and good times. It is also about difficult situations, pain and suffering.

We all are hankering after happiness and a good life. And the belief that life will eventually be good one day keeps us going. The insight that life need not be gratifying for all is quite difficult to accept, though it is quite evident as we see around us.

Adversities in life do one thing very well, i.e. they snatch our peace of mind. Thus the difference in the quality of our lives, notwithstanding the continuous influx of problems and hardships, depends on how we perceive our adverse situations. Some get trapped in the snare of depression, which plague their entire lives, while some others sulk for some time before they realize that no one is coming to rescue them. Only they themselves can be of any help. While there are few who continuously deal with the adversities in their lives and still manage to live a peaceful life.

Whenever any adversity came my way, I would always get dejected and for a considerable time would remain grief stricken, would sulk and try to blame someone or something for the problematic situations or hardships.  I would keep asking, “Why me?” without sparing a moment to realize that it’s not just me. Everyone else faces difficult situations in life.  However, I always knew very well that such an attitude would never help me in any way. But I could hardly change my ways. Maybe because it is easier to sulk and blame others than to stand up and face the problems head-on.

However, I realized over time that we cannot sit and sulk for long. Life eventually forces everyone to stand up and do something about the hardships or adversities placed in their lives. And how we deal with our problems and adversities is an art. We need to learn this art sooner or later. And this art is the art of resilience.

Resilience can be defined as our inner ability to resist being affected by and recover from failures, setbacks, illness or tragedies. It is our ability to stay strong during the trying times of our lives. We cannot avoid problems. They are inevitable. But we can at least learn to tackle adversities and problems in a way so that our lives do not become just a battle to survive. It is important to master the art of being resilient so as be able to live peacefully even while dealing with adversities.

I started contemplating resilience after I paid a visit to my friend in hospital who is fighting cancer for the second time. I was crestfallen to know about her situation. I thought she had recovered and had escaped the fatal disease when last year her treatment was over. But she is again there at the same place.

When I visited her in hospital, I saw her smiling as if nothing has happened. Her attitude completely flabbergasted me. I sulk over every small problem that comes my way, while she has learnt to smile even under such extreme circumstances. I was utterly curious and wanted to know how she managed this? Her answer – one sentence – still echoes in my ears: “Why stop living before I stop breathing?

I had to admire her. Instead of feeling sorry for her, I became envious. I became envious of her ability to be resilient. She decided not to give up on her life and get engulfed in a depressing state. I wanted to know how she has managed to achieve that state of mind and approach towards life.

After much contemplation, I have realized that it is very important to remain calm when one is faced with adversities. Resilience is all about preparing oneself to face adverse situations with one’s full potential. It is about harnessing our inner strength to face untoward situations and development of our problem solving skills. But the question was how to develop resilience. I have realized that the ability to be resilient is of paramount importance if I want to enjoy peace of mind. I cannot escape problems and adversities if I am alive. So isn’t it better to find a way to tackle problems in the best possible way without losing my peace of mind?

I think that the key to developing the art of resilience is the ability to trust our own self. Resilience is directly linked to one’s ability to react to some situation while holding onto optimism and confidence in one’s abilities to handle stress. So the first step towards cultivating the art of resilience is to learn to trust one’s own self.

Most of us fail to handle problematic situation because we lack trust in our own abilities. We fail to understand that every human being is equipped with an inherent ability to face problems boldly and overcome them. The only need is to realize our abilities by learning to explore our true self.

I now feel convinced that it is important to unlearn the habit of sulking and blaming others for our problems and instead learn to face them head-on.


Image Title Author License
Resilience Resilience Patryk Kopaczynski CC BY-SA 4.0