Today we are going to take a look at various strategies that you can put into practice in your daily life to make you more resilient, to become an anti-fragile person who benefits from whatever problems come up during the course of your day
In the previous post we would sum resilience up as being an ability to cope with, withstand, and even benefit from the setbacks that life has in store for us all.
Going back to ancient times, human beings have always sought ways to become more resilient.
The resilience contradiction
The contradiction, or let’s say incoherence, that we experience on a daily basis is that, the more we move on in terms of possibilities and technologies, the less resilient to life’s hurdles we seem to be. We have become a society as intelligent and advanced as it is soft and fragile, when looking at both psychological and physical terms.
Many of these strategies come from Stoic philosophy. Philosophers like Marco Aurelio have left us a whole legacy of prescriptions and recommendations for life that are just as important as when they were created. In fact, they might even be more important.
Ancient wisdom for the present day
Negative visualization: what’s the worst that can happen?
One of the most shocking and Machiavellian practices observed in the Stoics was to periodically visualize a catastrophic situation or to contemplate a certain amount of stress, such as the loss of a loved one, a romantic relationship or a very precious belonging.
Are we going mad?, wait a second…
Those unfamiliar with this strategy might point out the futility of “suffering needlessly” when imagining such situations. However, if you give it a try, you’ll see that it’s a surprisingly useful practice.
This is the case for a number of different reasons, the most important being the fact that, when picturing and feeling a loss like this, you immediately begin to value whatever it is much more when you realise that you still have that person or belonging by your side.
In a great deal of case, human beings make a serious mistake which I like to call “illusory permanence bias” meaning that they take for granted whatever they have in any given moment, assuming that they will always have it. This leads to valuing the precious asset less and less over time. It involves a hedonic adaptation that takes its toll, because we often have to deal with loss.
So sit down, close your eyes, and spend 5 minutes imagining yourself:
- Losing that nice house
- Sleeping “rough” on the street on 2nd March
- At the funeral of a loved one, mourning their unexpected passing
- Without your legs and in a wheelchair
- In hospital with a terminal illness
Believe me, when you open your eyes again, you will feel a genuine feeling of gratitude that might do you a lot of good
The second motive that justifies this practice is its ability to prepare you for the situation in question, considering it, even unconsciously, as something that could possibly happen.
Voluntary and intermittent withdrawal
We will call the second technique “voluntary abstinence”. When I say this, I’m talking about voluntarily and with a certain frequency, voluntarily abstaining and rejecting daily pleasures that you would have otherwise said yes to.
Getting what you want when you want only causes weakness
That piece of cake, delicious meal, extra hour of sleep or that needless whim can be good examples of objects of abstinence. This type of voluntary resignation was also common practice among the ancient Stoics, and its goal is to .
In this way, the practice of intermittent fasting, in addition to offering you cardiometabolic benefits, can also provide you with psychological benefits related to resilience. Voluntary fasting can free you in a mental sense from that pathological attachment that many of us have to food.
Giving up these things from time-to-time we enable you to savour life mor . That which we have every day becomes boring very quickly. This is the most obvious direct benefit of voluntary abstinence in any aspect of life.
You’ll find that you enjoy that dessert, afternoon off or lazy day much more if it’s something that’s not part of your everyday routine
What is scarce is precious. Scarcity is often desired. What is scarce much more enjoyable.
Understand the whole
As humans, we sometimes have trouble understanding facts as an interconnected whole, or holistically, and we often only give importance to the limit story our own thoughts tell us.
Isolated and disconnected events don’t really occur. The reality is an infinite interconnection of events in which you, at a given moment, see yourself as a protagonist:
- That’s when your mind will tell you the “victimhood lie”.
- It will say to you: Why did this have to happen to you?
- It will tell you that the grass is greener on the other side.
- It will give you a thousand reasons as to why this shouldn’t be happening to you and telling you how unlucky you are.
- It will make you feel thoroughly miserable.
But when you understand that what is happening in your life at any given moment, is part of an infinitely complex whole, in which you are only a very small grain of sand, the resistance that we put up when faced with catastrophe is weakened.
Keep in mind the triviality of our existence. Even names like Galileo, Marco Aurelio or Da Vinci will not mean anything in 100,000 or 200,000 years, a time that on a cosmic scale is not so immeasurable.
Your pain, your story, your situation, is only important for your microworld and those around you or connected to you. This is not going to stop suffering automatically, but can take away inertia from that terrible rush of pain that you are going through.
How can I benefit from this situation?
Yes, in all, and I mean all situations, you can take away something positive
If I have to stick to one specific strategy, I’ll always stick with this one. Before any vital catastrophe you have to go through, ask yourself the following: What can I get out of this situation?
- Many inmates of Nazi concentration camps became peace activists.
- People who have suffered abuse of all kinds are today giving talks to help others who have been through the same.
- Women who have been through a .
- Or kids who suffered bullying, like Jesús Vázquez.
- Or those who have suffered sexual abuse, such as James Rhodes.
The one thing they all have in common is the ability that they have had to become alchemists of their own suffering and their ability to know how to transform it into something positive, being able to help others along the way
Accept things for what they are without resisting
A great deal of the pain you feel when you go through a bad streak doesn’t revolve around the situation itself, but mostly around the internal resistance that we unconsciously develop when faced with the situation
Resistance and acceptance are opposites. Accepting the situation as it is may seem harsh or unthinkable to many, but it is a direct way to reduce the dose of daily pain being felt. To remove additional martyrdom created by the mind.
What is happening is a reality. This is a fact. Accepting it does not mean that you cannot do anything to change the situation, if you have the opportunity to do so.
Accepting it means not offering more internal resistance to the situation, because that resistance does not change the situation, only generating more misery
Developing guts for living
“Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die”
The first step of resilience is to realise and bear in mind that life, even if it is wonderful, will often make you feel a great deal of pain, sometimes as we would expect and other times in an unexpected way.
Becoming more aware of this fact is the first step on this journey, but it is not enough to make you a resilient person.
David Goggins, an ultra-performance athlete considered by many to be the “toughest man on the planet”, says that when he trains, he doesn’t just train to be faster, stronger, stronger or reach a record, but:
- Trains for that possible call at 2 am with news of a mother who has passed away
- Trains for that car accident
- Trains his mind and body on a daily basis to be ready for when tragedy strikes
- Trains for life
That is what forging resilience is.
Did you like the post? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments. See you next time!
- How can I strengthen my willpower?
- Meditation as a Remedy Against Depression and Anxiety