Sometimes I am asked what THE key to resilience is. I don't believe that it’s that simple, but today I'm going to highlight one thing that I see as being integral to the bigger picture of being able to cope well with whatever life offers up to us. It’s a thing called optimism. It’s having hope for the future; hope that things will get better or you’ll eventually find some equilibrium or peace; the belief that you will always find a way forward, or be able to accept what can't be changed.
So many things in our modern existence have potential to wear down one's sense of optimism. Just watching or reading the news triggers our unconscious survival mechanisms - you can't come away from engaging with news reports without feeling numb, depressed, horrified, unsafe, angry, anxious, fearful or stressed. If you do take in the latest news without overtly feeling any of these things, you are likely so desensitised you are no longer noticing your natural reaction to its content.
Social media can be a wonderful tool for bringing people together, for creating revolutionary movements, for communicating across continents and cultures. And yet as we all know it also carries a painfully sharp double-edged sword and regularly brings out the lowest forms of human behaviour, creates comparison that can eat away at one’s self-worth, and it can smack of everything superficial and narcissistic.
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Meet Gerald (the giraffe) and his kids, Bluey, Dear Dog and Griff. Stay with me here, just let your inner six-year-old take over for a moment; he or she thinks this makes complete sense so far.
Never mind that Gerald's wife is a bear, (her name is Dancing Bear), and that together they produced three dogs as their children. This is the (beautiful) magic of a six-year-old's imagination; anything is possible.
Bluey has started Prep this year, and one morning recently he told his dad Gerald that he felt ‘hopeless’ because he couldn’t read as well as some of the others in his class, and even worse he couldn’t spell his own name yet.
Gerald didn’t know what to say in response to Bluey. He was worried Bluey was putting so much pressure on himself... Gerald is a real family-giraffe. You know, he’s very hands on, he drops his kids off at school each day, and always tries to be there for them.
My seven year old son announced to me this morning this his Go Card (used for public transport) is in his 'Important Box'. Perhaps he was trying to reassure me, as I had previously shown concern that he was possibly going to leave his Go Card in some mysterious location in his bedroom, and we would never see it again (not sure why I am so cynical about such things).
So I asked him curiously what else is in his 'Important Box' (For Stuff). He went and fetched his box to show me. Here are some of the contents;
A pack of Uno cards, an expired Medicare Card, a tiny lightsaber and accompanying Luke Skywalker figurine (with tiny, felt Luke Skywalker robe), two mini Storm Trooper figures, a couple of old, random business cards, Chewbacca, a few neatly kept packs of Woolworths Super Animals collector cards, and a blue, fake 'gem' he found at school.