Building Resilience: The Key to Longevity

Resilience can simply be described as the ability to accept what is and make the best of it. We all react differently to situations and experience resilience in our own way, with varying degrees of effort depending on the area of our life the challenge is in. Being resilient is about bouncing back from setbacks and disappointment and moving on from negative feelings. When we can’t bounce back, we can feel stuck in an unwanted situation.

The remedy to feeling stuck is to be more flexible. We can do this by pausing to “see the bigger picture.” This helps us appreciate all the good in our life, what we can control, and what actions we can take to create more positive feelings. Research shows that with practice, individuals can cultivate the skills needed to adopt this process of creating more positive feelings and increasing their resilience. What determines our success is having a strong support system, being flexible, and maintaining a glass half full attitude.

Social support reminds us we are not alone in what we are going through. These strong relationships can provide guidance and comfort. It helps when someone understands our challenge and can validate our feelings. If you feel like you don’t have social support, it’s important to identify people you can reach out to and start building positive relationships. You can also consider volunteering or joining an affinity group of sorts. 

Flexible thinking gives us the ability to bounce back from adversity and determines how well we cope with life’s challenges. When we are flexible, we are better able to adapt and think clearly during difficult situations. This gives us the mental clarity to make rational, solution-focused decisions. With this mindset, we can let go of old stories that no longer serve us. Flexible thinking gives us the ability to move forward despite challenging situations. To practice being more flexible, simply try new things! When we break out of old routines and try something new, it allows us to get more comfortable with feeling like a beginner.

How often do you stop to appreciate all the good in your life? Feeling grateful gives us a more positive attitude, and gratitude is directly linked to increased levels of happiness. We can’t change the past, but we can learn to appreciate all that we have right now. Change and challenges are part of life and each of us have weathered many storms. Think of the strategies that helped you manage past difficulties and feel the gratitude for how far you’ve come in your life.

The process of becoming more resilient takes time, but the outcome is being able to successfully adapt to life’s peaks and valleys. To support us all in being more resilient, we are focusing on gratitude in November. We encourage residents and team members to take the Gratitude Challenge. It’s simple! Every morning and every night in November, name three things you are grateful for. Try to identify the small things that you appreciate or what you take delight in: A friendly greeting, being outside in the sunshine, or seeing a deer. They can be big or small things, just try to give a different answer each day. This practice will help us build more gratitude, happiness, and resilience.

Penny Vittoria
Successful Aging Coach

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