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Four Unusual Resilience Strategies You Must Not Ignore

What is resilience? Resilience defined literally means the ability to “snap back”, so to speak, after being stretched out or bent out of shape. The ability to overcome challenges, or to “snap back,” can be applied to nearly every aspect of your life: repairing a relationship after being hurt, applying for another job after losing one, looking at a failed test and working hard to ace the next one.

Resilience is about turning failures into successes. But how do we find the drive to pick ourselves up off the ground after we’ve fallen? Here are four unusual tips to become a stronger, more resilient you.

1) Make Every Failure a Learning Experience

Every time you make a mistake or experience a failure, instead of immediately trying to put it out of your mind, pause and think about how it could have been averted. Try to  look back on your negative experiences not as failures, but as opportunities to learn. In this way, your mistake becomes simply another experience that moves you closer to your goal.  Of course, this implies a willingness to feel the pain rather than repress it, as illustrated in the following encounter…

I was talking with a high school student recently about this very issue.  She said, “I would get a report back, and see the failing grade, and all I could think about was that it meant I was worthless (i.e., false interpretation). So I would throw it into the trash, or fold it up and tuck it away. And then I would distract myself in any way I could (i.e., repression of the uncomfortable emotion). And so it became this very unhealthy cycle: bad test, not studying because I was so busy recovering from the previous bad grade, another bad grade. But then I started doing something new. As painful as it was, I’d smooth out the tests and look at every single red ‘X’, every single thing I did wrong (willingness to be with the uncomfortable emotion). I kept the tests, and reviewed them. And failure became okay. I learned something with every mistake. And before long, things started getting better.”

Making mistakes is how we learn. It sounds trite, but it’s important to remember when the lemon meringue won’t come out right and the dinner party is in an hour. Next time, give yourself more time. Use a tried and true recipe, or buy your dessert from a bakery. (No one will know!)

Having failed and moved on, you’ve created resilience within yourself, because when you realize that you can make mistakes and move forward, that’s when you start to take risks and trust yourself. The most successful people are able to accept that sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t, and the important thing is to pick up that pieces and move on.

If you research a little into the background of almost every highly successful person, they almost always overcame so many challenges to get to where they are it’s a little mind-boggling. Take Henry Ford, whose early business starts left him broke five times before he started his successful Ford Motor Company. Or Beethoven, whose music teacher once wrote, “as a composer, he is hopeless.” Perhaps one of the most astonishing stories I read was Stephen King’s, whose first novel, Carrie, was rejected thirty times before he became the publishing phenomenon he is today. As Robert Kiyosaki’s mentor used to tell him in Rich Dad, Poor Dad, “Losers are people who think losing is bad.”

The key here is to recognize the mistake, learn, and try again.

2) Use Music to Overcome Negative Experiences

The effects of music on the brain are profound. This is Your Brain on Music, by Daniel J. Levitin, contains the following passage: “Through studies of people with brain damage, we’ve seen patients who have lost the ability to read a newspaper but can still read music, or individuals who can play the piano but lack the motor coordination to button their own sweater. Music listening, performance, and composition engage nearly every area of the brain that we have so far identified, and involve nearly every neural subsystem.”

This phenomenon accounts for the sense of calm and well-being that can wash over your whole body when you close your eyes and listen to music that you love.

Have you ever wondered why you are unnerved by silence? How many times have you walked into a room and by default turned on the TV or radio? Strange as it may seem, this may be a modern spin on a genetic predisposition: as an animal living in the forest, sounds of other animals would be intensely reassuring. As soon as the birds fall silent, it’s a sign there is something wrong, that a large predator is about. This is why one of the scariest moments in a horror movie is not when the music is playing, but in the deep silence when you just know there’s going to be a pop out! Listening to music can calm you down and make you feel like the world is right again.

Music can boost the immune system, help you recall memories, enhance exercising and increase spatial reasoning. Why not harness the power of music to prevail over negativity? Listening to songs you loved as a teenager can make you feel happy and nostalgic, classical music can open your mind, and nature sounds, such as birdsong, can relax you.

3) Use Humor

When there is a problem in your life that needs solving, don’t become mired in frustration and impatience. Try looking at the problem with humor! You may find that trying to solve problems with an open mind and a little creativity can blow your challenges out of the water!

When Antanas Mockus became mayor of Bogotá, Columbia, in 1996, he introduced some pretty humorous strategies to bring order to the crime-ridden city. They were surprisingly effective! To combat the problem of jaywalkers, Mockus hired 420 mimes to gently mock pedestrians who didn’t follow the rules. For example, a person who ran across the road would be followed and imitated by a costumed mime. “It was a pacifist counterweight,” Mockus said. “With neither words nor weapons, the mimes were doubly unarmed. My goal was to show the importance of cultural regulations.”

This may be an interesting method to try to get your child to stop playing video games …

The Columbian mathematician and philosopher also introduced measures such as a “Night for Women” where men were encouraged to stay home and look after the children, and went about asking people to call his office if they found a kind and honest taxi driver (the 150 drivers found were invited to meet with Mockus and discuss how to improve the behavior of inappropriate taxi drivers – they later would form a club called “Knights of the Zebra”). He also appeared in a commercial in which he demonstrated proper water conservation – while in the shower. “The distribution of knowledge is the key contemporary task,” Mockus said. “Knowledge empowers people. If people know the rules, and are sensitized by art, humor, and creativity, they are much more likely to accept change.”

If you’re interested, you can read more about Mockus in this article:

4) Your Emotions Affect the World Around You – Make Use of This

In 1991, Dr. Masuru Emoto of Japan began taking photographs of water crystals – and discovered something absolutely amazing! When he played beautiful music next to a container of water, the water crystals that formed when the water was frozen created beautiful shapes. The same also occurred when he channeled positive emotions at the water. However, when he focused negative emotions at the water, such as hatred and disgust, the crystals that formed were random, misshapen and ugly.  You can get a feel for his research in this excerpt from the famous docu-drama, What the BLEEP Do We Know?

This shows that we can change the world around us using positive emotions as tools for change. When we consider how 90% of our body is water, then we realize the possibilities for changing our own physical makeup into something more beautiful and positive.

Dr. Emoto had this to say in his book, The Hidden Messages of Water: “We must first and foremost live life to the fullest. Our consciousness is what will purify water, and through this we send messages of beauty and strength to all life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could cover the world in the most beautiful of water crystals? How do we go about this? The answer is love and gratitude. I’d like to ask you to take another look at the beauty of the crystals. If all the people of the world can have love and gratitude, the pristine beauty of the world will once again return.”

Using your emotions to make yourself and the world healthier and happier is certainly a pathway to success.

And Here’s the Subtext to All This…

You may have noticed that all four of these unusual and effective methods focus primarily on your mental-emotional resilience.  And yet they can also have a measurable impact on your physical well-being.  Even better, by training you to develop a positive outlook and overcome your inherent tendency to see the glass as half-empty, you’ll find over time that more and more wonderful persons, events and things seem to be drawn into your life.  Don’t believe me?  Just try it!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Spiritual Life: Reality or Delusion (Part 2)

Last time, I talked a bit about how we can discern real spiritual paths from the zillion “spiritual” side-tracks out there that can seriously mess up your life.  

This time, as promised, I’d like to talk about how you can begin an authentic spiritual life or get the one you have back on track. 

Now you may be thinking, “How can I start a spiritual life if I’m not really sure what I believe in yet?”  The answer is simple: if you feel the need to begin or expand your spiritual life, that means you most likely believe already that there is an Absolute Reality behind this visible universe, that life does have meaning, and that you can bring your own life more into alignment with this Absolute Reality than it is right now.  

I’ve studied spiritual life for decades and met some extraordinary people worldwide while doing so.  And over time I’ve become less and less interested in the specifics of each person’s theological beliefs (as important as those may be) than in what they actually DO in their spiritual lives.  In fact, it’s scarcely an exaggeration to say most people I know who would claim to have a spiritual life don’t really do much of anything on a daily basis by way of practicing it. 

On the other hand, some of the people with the “busiest” spiritual lives, who “do” lots on a daily basis are primarily engaged in ritual actions that make them “feel” spiritual without actually transforming their consciousness.  In other words, they too have a “spirituality” largely confined to beliefs, to the intellectual level, that doesn’t affect how they use their mind-body organism at all. 

Unfortunately, according to every Authentic Ancient Tradition worldwide, that kind of spiritual life is pure self-deception.  Real spiritual life depends not only on what you do, but on doing the one thing that will transform your life…

The 5 Laws of Spiritual Life:

Here are five things to put on your spiritual “to-do” list.  If you do each one consistently, patiently and joyfully, I’ll guarantee you’ll reap the fruits of your spiritual practice in your own life before long.  Remember, of course, that in spiritual life, the journey itself is to be enjoyed – not because it’s easy (it’s not), but because of how it changes you.

1. Persevere:
Spiritual life is about repeating the same basic practices over and over until they transform your inner world into paradise.  While you do this you will be tested beyond your current limitations.  You’ll find it boring… or painful… or useless… and you have to learn to disregard all that and continue.  That’s the plain truth.    

2. Discover the Miracle of Stillness:
Inner stillness is the foundation of every Authentic Ancient Tradition without exception, including the original Christian tradition, where it’s called “hesychia”, meaning “stillness” or “silence”.  This silence is interior and doesn’t refer to whether you talk or not.  You discover inner silence by sitting in quiet meditation and using some psycho-somatic method to calm your mind and observe your inner world without getting caught up in the emotional drama.  To get started, simply pray to be open to the truth and to be preserved from harm.  Then go into your stillness practice with that intention.  The most common, safest and powerful method is simply to use your mental attention to observe your breath.  Random thoughts will come, of course, and you can’t stop them.   Don’t try.  Just bring your attention back to the process if your mind wanders.  

3. Find Inspiration:
It’s vital that you stay inspired in your spiritual life, and that’s partly why a community of like-minded practitioners has always been considered so important.  Whether or not you can find such a community right away, you do need to find books, articles, videos, etc. to keep you spiritually inspired.  You need to build yourself a steady diet of this inspiration because, if you don’t, the pressures of daily life will almost certainly derail your spiritual intentions.

4. Pursue Harmony:
In everything you do, pursue harmony.  This means first and foremost pursuing harmony within yourself, harmony of thought and emotion, harmony between your mind and body.  And then it means harmony with the created world, with your environment, with your spouse, your children your friends and colleagues.  

5. Beware of the Dark Side:
The dark side of spirituality is very real and it’s all around you.  You’ll find some people telling you that you need to join their group to be saved from hell, or that you need to persecute groups they don’t like because God said so, or that you have to fit into their preconceived ideas of behavior and social morality.  Stay away from these people and from what they teach.  You’ll find other well-meaning people telling you that we’re here to suffer for our sins and the more wretched and miserable we feel, the better our spiritual lives.  That’s a tiny bit of truth mixed in with some huge twists, so be careful.  If you’re not sure about where the line between truth and delusion is, be sure to solicit the opinions of people of integrity you trust.  That doesn’t mean you take their opinions as gospel, just that you ask for help in discerning what’s for real and what’s not.  

Implement these five steps and you’ll be well on your way to a genuine spiritual life.  

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Making Your Life a "Work of Art"

You’re walking through your neighborhood, enjoying the sunshine, the crisp, clean air and the birds. Everything is peaceful and you’re very content…

…and then a diesel truck speeds by, spewing black smoke and leaving you coughing and sputtering for the next 60 seconds.

Sound familiar? We all seek harmony and beauty in our surrounding, but those surroundings are anything but harmonious and beautiful much of the time. All too often, we’re engulfed by noise, air pollution and visual “pollution”. Then it dawns on us that maybe harmony and beauty have never been high on our society’s priority list.

That’s changing, of course, as I outlined in my Special Report called “Gong-Fu” last year. (You can find a copy here:

In Monday’s post we talked about health. In Wednesday’s about spiritual life. In the end, we all realize that it’s harmony and beauty that are the key to both. What does that mean?

It means that we need emotional harmony within ourselves, otherwise both physical health and spiritual life will elude us.

We need tranquility of thought – to bring our thinking processes under our control.

We need a lifestyle that cultivates and builds harmony deliberately on every level.

Now what if there were a way to access the fundamental harmony and beauty of the universe already build into us? What if it was a matter of simply accessing what we’ve buried inside rather than “inventing” anything? That would be much easier, wouldn’t it?

The good news is… that’s the case. Not only do we have a built-in way to access the harmony and beauty of the universe, but that harmony and beauty is already inside, just waiting to be rediscovered.

With the ancient Taoist art of HARA, that’s what students most frequently report – that a whole new universe of profound peace, great beauty and wonderful harmony has just opened up to them.

There’s a Calvin and Hobbs cartoon we loved so much we had it framed. Calvin asks his dad why old pictures are always in black and white. His dad mischievously replies that the world only turned color a few decades ago.

That experience of feeling your world turn from black and white to color describes the feeling of practicing HARA. It also explains why HARA is the very foundation of both Tai Chi and Qi Gong. Must have been pretty successful 😉

You can learn more about HARA here:

For anyone who grabs a copy of this unique course before Sunday at midnight, I’ll toss in a free copy of The 5 Pillars of Life as well.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger