How to build Happiness Resilience in a Changing World
The idea of happiness resiliency popped into my mind during one of my morning walks.
I had just read a quote by Gregg Braden: “How can we thrive in the new world if we are waiting for the old world to return?”
The question stimulated me to contemplate all the changes and challenges we have faced since the beginning of 2020.
Regardless of the shift in direction, how are we stepping into the “new normal”? How do we face daily challenges, stay healthy and happy while re-imagining what our future will look like both personally and/or professionally?
Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties. Becoming more resilient not only helps us get through challenging circumstances, it also empowers us to grow and even improve our lives along the way.
Being both resilient and happy involves shifting our thoughts, behaviours, and actions.
With willingness and commitment, anyone can learn, develop, and improve. Happiness is a choice and success leaves clues. Whenever I am struggling with something personally or professionally I imagine what one of my teachers or mentors would do and follow their lead.
Sometimes simply zooming out of a narrow-minded focus on a perceived problem to shift to a wider perspective allows for greater insight and for new solutions to emerge.
This past year brought massive changes in my own life both personally and professionally. I learned firsthand how the practice of surrender and acceptance play key roles in being able to surf life’s ebbs and flows. Each day I chose to stay in gratitude even for the trials and tribulations. Obstacles can help build strength, resiliency and character and I managed to keep my spirits high with a few simple strategies that I share below.
A resilient person has the ability to bounce back more quickly and with less stress than someone whose resilience is less developed. I know for sure “what I resist persists”. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. When I finally got tired of struggling, I looked for fresh insight to move beyond the sticking point.
“At any moment, your life can change forever. Whether you choose to keep this frightening truth in the forefront of your awareness or not, impermanence is a fact of life.
Long ago, yogis recognized this by making non-attachment one of the cornerstones of yogic practice. If you follow the path of yoga, you must be willing to change anything and everything in your life: what you eat, wear, and read; how you perceive, think, and act. To be truly free, somewhere along the line you have to be willing to give up the illusory security of the known and fling yourself into the abyss of the unknown.” (John Schumacher)
Learning something new steps us out of our comfort zone and into unknown territory.
With practice and perseverance, our brain re-wires new pathways and the tasks get easier. Regardless of the challenge: learning a new skill, writing an exam, moving homes, losing a job, or loved one or even public speaking. We can turn tough times into opportunities to work on ourselves to be better.
Any change can be deeply confronting. Being uncomfortable is part of being human and getting out of our comfort zone is often the gateway to succeeding and moving on to the next level in anything.
According to B.K.S. Iyengar "The best way to overcome fear is to face with equanimity the situation of which one is afraid."
Making time for leisure activities clears my mind and reveals behavioural patterns. As a beginner learning to surf, I often got beat up by the waves I tried to chase. Subsequently, each time I hopped onto the board, I surrendered to the currents and went with the flow. A simple shift in strategy revealed that with less effort I could to catch a wave and ride it more smoothly, and as a bonus, I conserved my energy and had more fun!
When facing uncertainty in my business, I took this same approach. Instead of charging ahead blindly into new territory that I was unfamiliar with, I paused, got still and noticed what waves life was sending my way. I could choose which waves to follow and which ones to let go.
I asked: What resources do I need? Who is leading the way? What do I need to learn to work more effectively in the online world now? I discovered the tools were available, I became curious, cultivated the courage, took lots of deep breaths, dove into tutorials and chose to get excited about the possibilities instead of being nervous and resistant. It was comforting to know I was not alone.
I have learned that the next step in life is always revealed when we make a move and get into action. I fully trust this principle. Life and nature are always in motion, I do my best to flow with the currents rather than flounder against the waves and sink. You can too.
Similar to developing any muscle, increasing resilience and happiness takes time and intention. When something is important enough to us, we will find the way.
Here are three empowerment strategies to stay happier and more resilient:
1. Stay in the game - Explore, learn, grow
One of the first steps to getting unstuck is to change our thoughts and surrender to the moment. Be a thought watcher.
Is your first instinct to judge, criticize or complain? Or do you take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves and get to work to find a new pathway? With an optimistic, curious mindset, solutions will be revealed. Focus on what you can do instead of directing too much attention on the problem.
Follow the path of purpose. People from all walks of life share an innate drive for meaning, direction and purpose. What makes you come alive inside? What is your path to true happiness? Using positive psychology and wisdom traditions, we learn how to use our unique gifts and talents to serve others and the planet.
Gather the tools you need to get ahead. Take a course, follow an online tutorial, speak to a mentor or someone who has succeeded before you. Success leaves clues.
Simply setting out on a new journey will reveal all kinds of lessons, obstacles and fascinating new discoveries. Don’t get caught up on what you think the new normal is supposed to look like. It is a blank canvas and we are all creating our own artwork and exploring new territory that will be revealed as we go along. Keep going. One step at a time.
2. Stay connected - find your crew
Develop a collaborative mindset. Who can you count on or team up with to navigate turbulent times more effectively? Reach out to someone with complementary talents, connect with others who are better than you at something. Ask for help.
Exchange with people you look up to, join a new network of people, introduce yourself to like-minded or like-hearted people who are doing what you’d like to do. Support others by sharing your skills and talents, be optimistic, don’t complain, be solution-oriented, and seek new ways to navigate your own new normal while helping others in the process.
Find someone you admire for their resilience in the face of adversity. A parent, a family member, a teacher, a friend, a co-worker, a team mate. Connect and ask what got them through their tough times. Sharing and exchanging with others are wonderful ways to cultivate more meaningful relationships.
Avoid people who drag you into their pity-party or who thrive on gossip, complaining or negativity. Zip up and walk away to get ahead.
In the end, people who feel a sense of belonging and have a strong support network lead longer, happier, healthier lives. We know that finding your tribe is a liberating and comforting experience.
3. Stay well - Evacuate stress daily
Fill your own cup first so you can serve others from the overflow. This practice helps you give without getting depleted. Self-care to fill your own cup is a daily commitment that takes some time and practice. It is empowering and creates a feeling of vitality and abundance.
Self-care is a legitimate practice for mental health and building resilience. Stress is just as much physical as it is emotional. Repeated negative thoughts and emotions manifest as physical symptoms, aches, pains and disease.
Practice positive lifestyle habits like proper nutrition, restful sleep, hydration and regular exercise. Healthy daily habits can strengthen your body and mind to adapt to stress and reduce the toll of accumulated emotions that can cause anxiety or depression.
Mindfulness and heartfulness
Mindfulness practices help us become more self-aware and discerning.
Heartfulness reminds us to stay kind, compassionate and understanding that others are struggling too. Keep a “we’ve got this” approach. TEAM = together everyone achieves more.
Include gratitude journaling, yoga, and other spiritual practices like prayer or meditation. When you journal, meditate, or pray, draw awareness on positive aspects of your life, step into the feelings of love, peacefulness and be eager for new experiences life brings. Always recall the things you’re grateful for, especially during the tough times and your vibe will shift.
Allow for playtime and social engagement, laughter is medicine for the soul and helps us restore confidence.
Maintain a hopeful and optimistic outlook.
It is not easy when life isn’t going your way, no one said it would be. Keeping an optimistic outlook empowers you to expect that good things will happen to you. Tap into your imagination and visualize what you want, rather than worrying about what could go wrong or you fear.
Life will continue to move, by learning to surf the daily currents and ever-changing tides we will stay afloat, build resiliency and learn to smile during the storms. Progress leads to happiness. 🙂
Start today, what is one thing you can do differently to build your happiness resilience?
Be well friends.
Laura Warf is the founder of the School of Happiness, which crafts methods for wellness by integrating tools from ancient teachings to today’s cutting-edge research. School of Happiness is an online fitness and wellness platform that guides people to cultivate a resilient body, a clear mind and a happy heart following their eight essential elements to health and happiness.
Laura is a passionate wellness educator and leader in mind-body-heart integration. She offers retreats, classes and workshops live and online.
Gregg Braden on resiliency: https://www.greggbraden.com/resilience-from-the-heart/
Building your resilience, American Psychological Association: https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience
How to practice headstand by John Schumacher, Yoga Journal Oct 2017 https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/headstand
BKS Iyengar, Light on Yoga