On Resilience

The June issue of More Magazine had a great article called 'Secrets of the Super Resilient' which I enjoyed very much.

I particularly liked the following passage.  The victim of a shark attack discusses the trauma of the attack and it's aftermath.  Her observations on happiness will stay with me and bear repeating here:

"People love to say that one can choose to be happy.  I was frightened to my core.  I was in a tremendous amount of pain, and the pain meds made me throw up.  I was afraid that [my husband] might think I looked hideous and stop loving me.  I was afraid that if he left me, I would be destitute....  Simple tasks such as dressing myself and inserting contact lenses and preparing food and washing dishes and tying shoes and learning to write with my left hand were overwhelming."
"But she had a strategy, and it involved using her body to control her emotions:  'Every morning when I woke with a cloak of fear and despair around me, I chose to smile.  Sometimes tears were streaming down my face, but I forced my lips into a big smile, and I made a decision to be happy.  It was really powerful.  It was one of the few things I could control.'"
At the heart of all of [her] resilient qualities is an attitude toward life that I've encountered over and over again in the survivors who return to life most successfully after trauma.  One of the first things she ever said to me reveals a great deal about that attitude:  'I'm really lucky.'  She went on: 'I don't regret that this happened to me.  What surprises me is how something so horrific has been such a positive experience in my life.  I would never want my husband or my parents to go through that again, but for me, it was transforming.'"
Every morning, she explains, 'I faced a crossroads.  Had I chosen to give in to despair each time instead of forcing myself to project happiness, I would have slid into self-pity.  Now, no matter what my circumstances are in the future, I know the formula for getting through whatever hits me.  I know I can cope."
I love this.  And I have thought it about myself.

When I think back about the bad stuff in my life I know that I made the choice to get over things, to learn from them and to be happy.

Don't get me wrong, I think I spent a fair number of years (yes, I said years) pitying myself - especially after the divorce.  But ultimately, those bad things PUSHED me to a different and better place.

And now I, too, know that I can cope with anything.

It's an empowering feeling.

Image:  Atlantic Ocean by Glennis Photos


  1. Wonderful post! And it's so true! I believe you absolutely choose happiness. And it's the best choice you can make in life.

  2. I'd agree that most emotions/feelings are are self-imposed. Want to feel bad - oh you'll feel bad. Want to be happy - then you'll be happy. Some folks like operating near the red line of misery & get a lot of kickbacks & attention for doing so. Bless their hearts.
    I'm more inclined to stay in the glass half full camp. I've been down, but never out & knowing that & reminding myself of that keeps me in a pretty good happy place!

  3. Tonya - Thank you for this post. My mother pasted away in June unexpectedly and I have been on an emotional roller coaster. I am single and my mother and I were very close. I have never felt so alone and lost in the world. I am grieving so and I know if I don’t get straightened out I am going to make myself sick. So, this is little post was very uplifting. I must choose to be happy again.

    Do you know a good estate attorney in eastern NC?


  4. Wanda - I am so very sorry for your loss. I'm glad this little post gave you a little bright spot. If you're near Wilmington, please contact Paula Kohut. I used to practice law with her when she lived in Charlotte. She's an excellent estate lawyer.

    I wish you love and peace and light today.



Related Posts with Thumbnails