Success in life encompasses such features as positive relationships with others, contentment at work, feeling as if you’re in control of your future, a positive outlook and resilience.

What is resilience?  A resilient mindset, says Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein in the book The Power of Resilience (Contemporary Books) consists of:

  • Establishing realistic goals and expectations
  • Possessing solid problem-solving and decision-making skills, and having the flexibility to change direction and tactics in order to achieve what you seek
  • Learning from both success and failure
  • Feeling special (not self-centered) while helping others to feel the same
  • Assuming personal control and responsibility over what you do and what you say
  • Building islands of competence
  • Being compassionate, empathetic and walking in the shoes of others, metaphorically speaking. (Am I treating others in the same way that I would like to be treated?)
  • Communicating effectively.  Effective communication involves an appreciation of how both our verbal and non-verbal messages are perceived, and a capacity for active listening.  When we listen actively, we attempt to understand and validate what other people are communicating.  Validation does not suggest agreement, but rather understanding without belittling.  Many people believe they communicate effectively.  However, when others do not respond as they would like, they tend to blame others, not themselves.  “My husband (wife, child, colleague, friend) doesn’t listen to me” or “They just don’t understand me.”    When others appear not to listen to our messages, we must ask “How might I change the way I have been saying things so that others may be more receptive to what I have to say?”
  • Accepting one’s self and others.  Self-acceptance implies possessing realistic expectations and goals, recognizing our strengths as well as our vulnerabilities, and leading an authentic, balanced life in which our behaviors are in accord with our values and goals.
  • Strengthening our connections, especially to other people, but also to our values and causes.
  • Dealing effectively with mistakes.   Resilient individuals tend to view mistakes as experiences for learning and growth.  This does not mean they are overjoyed when they make mistakes, but rather that they are not easily discouraged, looking for opportunities that might be a by-product of setbacks.  In contrast, people lacking resilience often perceive mistakes as evidence that they are failures.
  • Developing self-discipline and control.  When we think before we act, when we consider the feelings of others, when we reflect on possible solutions to a problem, when we behave in a rational and thoughtful way, when we avoid food or behaviors that we know to be harmful or unwise, when we keep from screaming at someone who has done something to make us angry, we are displaying self-discipline and self-control.  To understand how important self-control is to happy relationships, all we need do is look at what it’s like to be around someone who exhibits an absence of self-control.  How many of us like being with someone who is unpredictable, inconsistent, impulsive, arbitrary or has a bad temper?
  • Having stick-to-it-ness and not giving up.

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