In my last blog I explained how having resilience or in other words, having a balanced perspective and understanding that there are going to be daily challenges and being confident you can overcome them is a key to successful aging. But how can you get resilience if you don’t naturally have this type of outlook.
Here are some suggestions for you.
Laugh at least five times a day.
Humor and resilience are actually quite similar. After all, what is humor but the ability to make light of real life? Laughter keeps you optimistic, helps you cope, reduces stress, and reminds you of what’s important in life. If you don’t have a sense of humor, now is the time to work on one. Start with the professionals: Watch comedies on TV, rent funny movies, read funny books. Be less stern and more playful with your family. Have animated conversations about unimportant things with friends. Learn the art of the gentle tease – and be open to teasing in return. Come bedtime, look back on your day and vow to laugh more tomorrow. Just one warning: Avoid sarcasm, mockery, and any other forms of humor that degrade of hurt others. Humor, when twisted improperly, can be more bitter than sweet.
Choose laughter over anger.
Let’s be honest: There’s no shortage of people and things that can make us angry, be it the government, the clerk at the store, your spouse’s insensitive comments, the living room mess, the crazy driver in front of you, your boss, and so on. In every case, you have a choice: Get angry, or don’t. We recommend choosing the latter. Getting angry solves nothing. But it does accomplish something: It ruins your mood, hurts your health, and gets in the way of constructive responses. Resilient people avoid anger. Rather, if they can control the situation, they work to improve it – and if they can’t control it directly, they find ways to cope with it. The next time anger starts to sweep over you, shut it down, smile at the absurdity and frustrations of life, and get busy fixing things.
This is closely related to the tip on controlling anger. Most people do what they do by choice. People who take the time to ponder the other side’s perspective almost always sidestep anger and respond constructively. Rather than just getting angry at your boss, for example, take a moment to think through why he said what he said or did what he did (more often than not, he’s acting in response to someone else’s unreasonable demands!) The ability to see situations from multiple viewpoints is extremely handy for building a more resilient personality.
List your strengths.
This could be everything from your ability to interact with anyone at any time to your talent for baking. Don’t do this on your own; ask people who know you well to contribute to the list. Knowing your strengths, becoming aware of your strengths, is like putting money into the resilient bank. When it’s time for a withdrawal, you’ll know just how much you have to use.
Write down your blessings
Recognizing the many things you have to be thankful for is a sign of resilience. Don’t leave anything out. If you’re blessed because you moved into a house with the master bedroom on the first floor and don’t have to climb stairs, add it to the list. Make copies of the list and put one in your bedroom, the kitchen, and the glove compartment of your car. Whenever you’re tempted to complain about your fate, pull out the list and remind yourself how lucky you really are.
A good tip to end with, is not to just write this list one time. Many successful people practice waking up with a mindset of gratitude. The first thing they do in the morning is to take time to either pray or meditate and think of all the things in their life they are grateful for. If the first things you do is this each day you set yourself up for a day of happiness and accomplishment.
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