By studying and learning about the traits of resilience, the ability to bounce back and flourish despite limitations and challenges, we can all improve our ability to withstand and prosper during challenging times in our own lives.
This material is summarized from Positive Psychology writer Sherri Fisher.
Here are some characteristics of resilience to study and emulate, which I am quoting from her article:
"1) Resilient siblings of dysfunctional families withdraw from family members enmeshed in problems. In this case, only Timothy escaped the patterns which led seven other siblings (two others died in childhood) to repeat the troubled lives of the parents.
2) Resilient people have a caring adult in their lives. This person does not have to be related to the young person. Timothy accepted charity and met a trustworthy, caring adult.
3) Resilient people develop and value personal competence and determination. In fact, this is considered one of their most effective resources by resilient adults looking back to their at-risk childhood. Timothy made a plan to leave and did not look back.
4) Resilient people show a strong capacity to work, even in childhood. This is a strong predictor of career success and out-predicts the negatives of poverty or a multi-problem family. Capacity to work also predicts satisfying interpersonal relationships and good mental health in adulthood. Timothy was never without work from the time he was 15 years old.
5) Resilient people set goals for their adult life, even when they are children. They focus on career or job success, self-development and self-fulfillment. They strive for a happy marriage to a spouse who is a source of support and with whom they will have children, and aspire to owning a home. Timothy and his wife were married for 52 years, and owned several homes of increasing value during this time.
6) Resilient people set high expectations for their children. These include school achievement, higher education attainment, happy families of their own, and the clear expectation that they will do things the right way, not the easy way. All of Timothy’s children were expected to perform well in school, acquire a post-secondary education, and marry and have families, which they did, happily.
7) Resilient people believe that failures will happen, but that you can always try again. Note that in the language of explanatory style, resilient people are not optimists—they don’t expect good things—but they do have high self-efficacy and take a long view when bad things do occur. That long view may have resulted in Timothy’s 52-year marriage and 19-year cancer survival.
8) Resilient people are active in community service. Timothy gave back for years and years to support youth and young adults in areas that mattered deeply to him—the military and the church.In George Vaillant’s model of adult development, Timothy successfully negotiated the “six sequential tasks.” These are:
- Identity—separate from parents
- Intimacy—psychologically healthy involvement with a partner
- Career Consolidation—find work valuable to society, and both valuable and enjoyable to self
- Generativity—broadening social circle, providing care for the next generation
- Become Keeper of the Meaning—pass on traditions that link the past to the future
- Integrity—achieving peace and unity with one’s self and the world."