A Story of Resilience and Strength We Can All Learn From

You hear the statistics often. You see some people following the safety rules set up for Covid, while others are proceeding with little or no caution.

It’s been a long haul for me personally. My 95-year-old mother passed this week because a staff member unintentionally brought in Covid. Although the nursing home was following the rules, such as taking temperatures, checking for external signs, it simply was not enough because so many people are asymptomatic. However, this is not a story about the nursing home. They really were doing their best.

My mother amazed me. I used to ask her, “how do you wake up each morning ready for a new day?” Being in pain all the time, feeling isolated due to Covid, she never complained. In fact, she didn’t realize herself how strong she was until I pointed it out to her and acknowledged her courage and positive outlook. When I asked her how she does it, she said there were two choices. She said the first choice was to complain, which makes you feel worse. She said she chooses the second, to be grateful for each sunrise. Which is how I choose to live my life.

I told her about a book by Viktor Frankl called Man’s Search for Meaning. This was a gripping story about how a man in a concentration camp managed to survive because of his resilient attitude. To paraphrase Frankl when served his meal of the day, a bowl of dirty water with a fish head in it, he said he managed to see the beauty in it, or he’d never survive.

Frankl wasn’t born with a resilient gene, and neither was my mother. Over the years they built their resilience muscles until they were really well developed and a natural ‘go-to’ for them. I work out my resilience muscle each day when I work out. Let me explain …

Most of us think of resilience as bouncing back. And while it is about bouncing back, in addition, it is about how long does it take you to get back up. If you fail do you stay down, or do you look at the failure and learn from it? The resilient person learns from it and builds from there.

I view resilience as a thinking style. We have thoughts that are negative and toxic, and they deplete our energy (like gossip or anything with mal intention), and we have thoughts that energize us (points us in the direction we want to go). If we want to increase our resilience, we have to practice by having thoughts and building habits that are productive and positive. To make this thinking a habit, we have to practice by shifting and reframing negative to positive and productive thinking. This builds our resilience.

Resilience isn’t something you are born with. It is something you strengthen by working out with it each day. For example, if you want to develop stronger arms, you lift weights, and after repetition, your arms become stronger and more defined. The same is true of resilience.

Many people would have given up a while ago given my mother’s situation. She chose to be resilient. She was a role model for courage and heart. I will miss her terribly. I know she’s moved on to whatever is next for her and that she’ll watch out for us like a guardian angel would.

Make sure you are taking care of yourselves and your loved ones. Be patient, build your resilience, and hang in there during this time of uncertainty.