I just finished my on-line class on “Resiliency”. There was an interesting quote from Dr. Chris Peterson: “I spent my young adult years postponing many of the small things that I knew would make me happy. I was fortunate enough to realize that I would never have the time unless I made the time. And then the rest of my life began”.
How many of us “postpone things”? How often do we say “that needs to wait until later, when I have more time”? How many of us have had time slip by, like a river, never to be seen again? Might there be stresses or unhappy events going on in our life that you choose not to address, yet they rob us of happiness?
This 8-week course I took on Resilience was really a good reminder, as well as a call to action. Resilience is “ordinary magic”. The idea behind this definition is that resilience is not some super-power or some unique genetic marker that we are born with. It is not the product of some random “luck” bestowed on us. Resilience can be learned if you devote the time and energy to strive and make room in your life to actually incorporate resilience skills, routines and practices into your life.
As I have gone through this class on Resiliency, I find it most striking that a theme keeps popping up. That theme can be summarized as follows:
We need to clarify what is important to us.
Generally speaking, what is important to us should be our values. Once we focus on what is important to us, we need to commit to specific actions to live those values. And lastly, we have to regularly evaluate how we are doing. There is an old saying “if you aren’t measuring it, it probably is not important”. In the case of living your values, I think it is doubly true. It takes a lot of work to truly decide what you want to be in life, how you plan on accomplishing it and then to regularly challenge yourself on how you are doing.
Allow me to give a self example about values, happiness and measuring/evaluating. One area important to resilience, happiness, and (most importantly) critical to my values, are relationships. Being honest, I find that I have given those short shift. Relationships come in all kinds of packages- family, friends, acquaintances, daily interactions with strangers, and all kinds of social and work meetings that provide fleeting chances to make connections. I typically choose to minimize those connections. I enjoy my solitude. I am uncomfortable around people who I don’t appear to have a connection with. Someone like Rose absolutely maximizes relationships. She thrives on them. I see the value and enrichment they bring to her life. Yet I see myself letting those opportunities pass by. So I have been working on my relationships with others and finding I am getting better at it.
The bottom line for me is that life is so full of choices – large and small – that we face every moment of every day. We cannot be perfect. We will slip up. Life will throw us curves. The unexpected does happen. We will make bad choices sometimes. We have the right to react how we wish to sometimes. But in the end, WE CHOOSE.