A few years ago, I wrote a book called The Stoic Art of Living, which had the subtitle "Inner Resilience and Outer Results." The more I had read the ancient Roman stoic philosophers on the ups and downs of life, they more I had come to appreciate the quality of resilience as crucial to success in an uncertain world.
In a book called, Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back, author Andrew Zolli defines this quality as “the ability of people, communities, and systems to maintain their core purpose and integrity among unforeseen shocks and surprises.” I see it as a psychological tendency to bounce back from challenges, difficulties, and obstacles. The resilient person absorbs "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," as Hamlet put it, and bounces back with a positive attitude and renewed action toward his or her goals.
We can cultivate resilience in our lives in many ways. The stoics had mental techniques a couple of thousand years ago that work today as well as they did then. One friend says that when big trees of misfortune fall across his path and block the way forward, he says to himself, "It's time to get out the chainsaw!" A Roman would have thought of his ax. A simple go-to image can make a difference, and turn around your emotions.
One particular ancient image can be helpful here. The debris of difficulty will at times fall like mounds of trash into almost any life. Many will feel smothered and give up. But if your spirit burns brightly enough with the fire of enthusiastic commitment, that debris is just more fuel for the fire. The amount of garbage that could smother a small flame will be consumed by a great one, which will then grow bigger. Difficulty can actually feed your determination. It's most often up to you.
The inertia of resistance typically pushes back against great new things, and creative people. A resilient individual lets this become a badge of honor, and uses it to fuel even greater efforts. So burn brightly, and enjoy the benefits of resilience that can result!
There's hardly anything in this world as satisfying as bouncing back from difficulty, challenge, and adversity, and attaining a level and form of success that can surprise and delight you.