Other Pointed Topics · Positive Psychology · Wellness

Resiliencey as a Virtue


A few posts back I wrote a piece on positive psychology. I also have been thinking about the word resiliency. Is it an adaptive trait, virtue, or both? I uncovered that it’s considered a virtue and a core concept of positive psychology. Why am I not surprised? I do find it interesting that this subject keeps finding its way back to me.

…resiliency seems to have a lot of overlap with the category of courage, defined as “emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal” (VIA Institute on Character, 2008, n.p.). Among the various types of virtue across the categories, resiliency also could be said to involve creativity, perspective, persistence, vitality, social intelligence, self-regulation, and hope.*

Personally, resiliency is one of my core virtues, and I believe it propels me forward in life. Being a hard worker, possessing a can-do attitude, a touch of stubbornness, and a good sense of humor has a lot to do with it. In times when I feel overloaded, Comedy Central, my nephew Torio’s standup comedy, or a silly movie helps me through. My friend Jodi (R.I.P.) used to use a phrase that has stuck with me for years, “If you can’t laugh with your donkeys, who can you laugh with?” I used to think it was a silly saying but I get it now. Translate it any way you want but to me; it means you should always find the joy in life’s many ups and downs, there is a reason for everything, and to remember, “this too shall pass.”

I’ve been called resilient numerous times in both my professional and personal life. I have no doubt it is meant to be a compliment, but it also makes me question why some deal with more obstacles than others. I have dusted myself off and gotten back on that horse numerous times. Most notably, years ago, I was misdiagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The doctor was sure of my diagnosis before running any tests. His words were life-changing. Something in me knew he was wrong. I fought hard, and those closest to me later said my determination was awe-inspiring. My focus was simply to remain healthy. Thankfully, I did, and now I realize it was a real test of my resiliency. It also taught me another lesson – not every situation is worth fighting for unless it truly means something to me or my future.

Recently, I heard a radio interview with Gabby Bernstein promoting her new book; The Universe Has Your Back. In it, she writes about transforming fear, doubt, and pain into faith, truth, and joy. The timing blew my mind, and her words struck a chord with me. Even though I realize my past mistakes and triumphs have made me who I am, it put it in perspective. All the good and bad in my past also happened for a reason. All the gut-wrenching relationships/dating experiences, career directions, family struggles, new friendships and friendships I walked away from, have led me here. It may not be the “here” I anticipated or wanted at this stage in my life, but it’s what I got, and I want to believe more great things are on the horizon. I choose to stay positive and not dwell on the things that didn’t work out according to plan. Lest not forget, God laughs when we make plans.

That’s not to say I won’t make mistakes or suffer any misjudgments. We all do and will. I hoped that certain someone was “the one,” I took the wrong job on more than one occasion, attempted to help others only to have it blow up in my face, I allowed friends, teachers, and family to hurt me emotionally, and experienced numerous frustrations. It is the path I am supposed to take. Thankfully I’m resilient enough to keep moving forward and not let anyone break me or my spirit. I need to trust that the reason things did not work out were a protection and maybe somewhere deep down I made an impact. I will continue to learn, and I will look forward to what life has in store.

Four ways resiliency can help you move forward:

  1. Change your attitude. Stop dwelling on past indiscretions and failures and start trusting that it was all leading you to a profound future.
  2. Understand the good and bad were lessons. Remember the good, learn from the bad and apply those lessons to your day to day.
  3. Laugh! Laugh! Laugh!
  4. Remind yourself daily, whether through meditation or self-perseverance, that you did the best you could and you deserve good in your life.

* “Resiliency as a Virtue: Contributions from Humanistic and Positive Psychology” | by Brent Dean Robbins, Point Park University & Harris Friedman, University of Florida

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