Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pep Talk Week: Resilience

Every once in a while, I'd get drawn to the promises of a self-help book and imagine my life improved after following its recommendations. More often than not, I can't even fi
nish reading it. The Resilience Factor by Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte, however, is an exception. This is one that I've read and come back to several times.

When we face seemingly unending and insurmountable obstacles--oh, I don't know, such as trying to get published when the likelihood of that happening is shrinking daily--there is a temptation to give in to hopelessness. Resilience is the trait that prevents that.


[Resilient people] seem to soar in spite of the hardship and trauma they face. In fact, the most resilient people seek out new and challenging experiences because they've learned that it's only through struggle, through pushing themselves to their limits, that they will expand their horizons.

It's a good thing we don't have to seek out challenges.

...they don't wither when confronted with risky or dangerous situations...have found a system to galvanizing themselves and tackling problems thoughtfully, thoroughly, and energetically.

The authors are cognitive psychologists, so they advocate changing our lives by changing our thinking. They offer resilience tests, examples of thinking traps, and of course, ways to increase our RQ, (you've got it: resilience quotient!)

A couple of ideas that I find most relevant to me as a writer have to do with numbers 5 and 6 of the seven essential skills:
  • Putting it in perspective
  • calming and focusing
Yes, the book is written in the format of standard self-help books, with punchy titles and handy lists. But if you can get pass these distractions, I think the ideas may offer us dreamers and wordmules some tools for banishing negative thoughts that keep us from doing what we do.

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