At a recent Happy Cafe meeting we discussed the theme of resilience, one of the 10 Keys to Happier Living from Action for Happiness. Having a happy life doesn't mean one that is free from challenging situations; we all know that tough times are part of life, but being able to deal with these situations is vital for happier living.
To start with, it is reassuring to be reminded that we all have a natural amount of resilience. Dr Ann Masten, an expert in the subject, describes it as 'ordinary magic' because it is something which we all have. Recent science is showing us however, that there are skills we can develop which make a difference even in the most demanding times. These are the areas where we can take action and increase the natural amount of resilience we all have in the first place. Some of these skills are:
* using active coping strategies * thinking resiliently * using optimism and humour * nurturing relationships and helping others * looking after your physical well-being * having a sense of purpose and meaning * knowing and developing your strengths * practising gratitude
At our Happy Cafe meeting we concentrated on the first one of these and we shared the coping strategies we all used. They included meditation, mindfulness walks, identifying boundaries, finding balance, learning from past experiences, self care, exercise, having someone to talk to and expressive writing. As you can see these strategies were many and varied, showing that the ingredients for resilience are different for everyone and for different situations. We set ourselves the challenge of trying at least one new idea with the aim of increasing our coping strategies for the future.
Finally, participants were introduced to a book and website as further helpful resources - Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg is a practical book about building resilience before it is required and moving forward after life's inevitable setbacks. It has recently won a Best Book of 2017 award and is highly recommended.