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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