Lately I have been thinking an awful lot about resilience. I talk about resilience every day, but I have been searching for a way to explain to others how to cultivate it, how to recognize it, and what resilience really means. I do some of my best thinking when I am out walking with my dog, so this morning I laced up my sneakers and headed to the park in our neighborhood. While I wish I could say that I had a ground breaking a-ha moment that I could share with you right nowI did take away something that I find a lot of comfort in on my walk today. As for fully explaining Resilience, the fact still remains that cultivating resilience is more complex than I could sum up in a single blog post.
Resilience is about habits, but it is also about single actions taken in single moments as well.
In some ways that is intuitive. After all, it takes doing specific actions many moments in a row to form a resilience promoting habit. But if you or your child is not feeling well, forming habits can be very challenging. If you are dealing with depression, just getting out of bed may seem like an insurmountable hurdle, let alone doing something repeatedly to form a habit. Conversely, if you are struggling with OCD or PANDAS, you may be trying to stop repetition of actions, and the thought of having one more action to take or worry about can be overwhelming.
What I am talking about here is not working on forming habits, but taking notice of and celebrating Resilient Moments.
An example from my walk this morning has to do with redwoods. You may not know this about me, but I have a thing for redwood trees. They are my absolute favorite, and I just seem to feel better when I am hiking through a redwood forest. Unfortunately I live in San Diego, where the air is too dry for redwoods to thrive. But that hasn’t stopped the city parks from trying to plant them! The redwoods in my local park are sadly not doing well, even with our recent rains. It always breaks my heart to see these trees that have the capacity to be lush, vibrant giants withering away, barely more than twigs compared to their Northern California counterparts.
Today when I was walking, I was thinking about resilience. For the first time ever, I noticed all the bright green saplings growing at the foot of the trees I felt so sad for. This, is resilience. These trees are fighting to try and thrive, even in the face of unlikely odds. The trees that are struggling in our semi-arid climate are also resilient in that they were able to produce the cones that these saplings grew from. If these trees were able to be transplanted to a more conducive environment (ie. if we could remove the primary obstacle for thriving), they would undoubtedly flourish and potentially live for a thousand years or more. Don’t even get me started on how much resilience the redwoods must have to be able to grow from a tiny cone smaller than the size of a quarter, into the tallest trees in existence.
Notice when you experience resilience. Notice when you see someone else being resilient. Notice when you see examples of resilience in nature. All of these moments should be celebrated.
What this all boils down to is that resilience is all around us, waiting to be noticed. Here is the trick – when you start paying attention to resilience all around you, it grows and becomes stronger. Which means that you, in turn, become more resilient.
Dr. Jennifer Bahr ND
Founder or Resilience Naturopathic