Friday, June 11, 2010

Resilience revisited

I don't usually talk about resilience, but every once in a while, something captures my attention and is worth passing on. This is the case with the book, "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin.

There are several reasons:

• She owns her problems/challenges/etc. There are an infinite number of things we don't control and a relatively small number that we do. Chief among the things we control is ourselves; our attitudes and behavior. If we blame the stuff we don't control, then our lives tend to suck. If, instead, we focus on what we can control, we have a chance to make things better and she does that. It actually becomes a theme of the book. Everything she identifies as making her unhappy she addresses as her problem, not someone else's.

• There is real scholarship being practiced. Not the theoretical stuff that happens in schools, but the real stuff that has evolved over time and has solid practical research at its core.

• Her research and experience points out that her attitude is what makes her more or less happy.

As an example, one of the topics she researches is the old belief that if we "vent our anger" we release it and are "happier because of it." Turns out that's just not true. Being angry will make us more angry. Being happy will make us more happy. What a powerful idea that is.

When we are looking for jobs, all of the stuff she is saying is put into bold relief. There is even less that we can control than during times of employment. There are more reasons to be angry than when employed. There are fewer good things that penetrate our psyche than when employed. One of Ms. Rubin's points is that by finding those positives, those good things and focusing on them, the rest of our lives actually get better.

Back to the idea of "Resilience". When I copied the paper my wife wrote on resilience into the blog a year or so ago, the points it addressed very briefly are many of the same areas as in "The Happiness Project." Ms. Rubin just does a much better job of it.

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