Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How to Bounce Back From Life's Disappointments

There are many things you can do to enhance your personal resilience, including connecting with people you trust.
Alan Youngblood (Associated Press Files)
by Karen Kyliuk, Winnipeg Free Press: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/how-to-bounce-back-from-lifes-disappointments-286854621.html

There are many things you can do to enhance your personal resilience, including connecting with people you trust.

Have you ever felt like life is a roller-coaster ride with ups and downs, twists and turns?

Well, you aren't alone. Life hits hard sometimes, no matter how much we try to avoid problems, big or small, they will come our way. Our ability to manage the roller-coaster of life is often referred to as resilience.

Psychologists describe resilience as adapting well and bouncing back from adversity. Recent research has expanded our understanding of resilience to include not only our ability to recover from setbacks but to actually embrace change, softening rather than fighting the hardships we face in life.

Personal resilience is made up of skills and abilities that help us to steer through adversities in life. Research also shows a strong support system is one of the most important factors in personal resilience.

Having personal resilience doesn't mean you will never experience sadness, disappointment or even trauma.

What it does mean is when life troubles come your way, you can mobilize supports and resources and use your personal resiliency skills to get through the temporary pain, uncertainty, or even despair of a situation. Without a resilient approach, you may experience reactions such as feeling overwhelmed, victimized or trapped.

The good news is resiliency skills can be learned and our resilience can be developed and strengthened over time.

Any surfer will tell you they are always looking for the next big wave to ride, but even surfers had to learn to develop that level of confidence and skill set to face such an intimidating force. Building your personal resiliency is just like this, it may take some time, self-reflection and practice, but in the end it will be well worth it.

Knowing your limitations is good; challenging yourself to build resilience is even better. There are several things you can do to enhance your personal resilience, including:

- Make positive connections with people you trust; they will strengthen your resolve in times of need.
- Recognize the temporary aspects of your current situation; this will lessen feeling overwhelmed.
- Accept that change and challenges are a part of life.
- Reflect on the specific problem that you are dealing with, explore potential solutions and work toward small successes.
- Take an action approach; do something!
- Look for life lessons or teachable moments in the hardship.
- Nurture a positive view of yourself and acknowledge your efforts in dealing with challenges.
- Maintain hope things will get better.
- Take good care of yourself.
- Reach out for professional help when needed.

The first step is to recognize amid life's struggles, there are things you can do to be more resilient. Another step is to reflect on how we tend to view problems and in turn how this perception impacts us. Maintaining hope and a sense of optimism such as, "this, too will pass" or "I will deal with this the best way that I can right now" supports us to persevere when things seem grim.

As you practise viewing and resolving problems with resiliency in mind, you will begin to notice enhanced confidence in your ability to manage life struggles, to embrace challenges and to accept change. Nurturing your personal resilience as a part of your daily routine will help you prepare for what lies ahead in the unpredictable roller-coaster of life.

Karen Kyliuk is a mental-health resource and education facilitator with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 26, 2014 B7.

Monday, December 29, 2014

"Remember when we...?"; Why Sharing Memories is Soul Food

Christmas Memories
Christmas Memories (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Amanda Barnier and Penny Van Bergen, The Conversation: http://theconversation.com/remember-when-we-why-sharing-memories-is-soul-food-35542

Families and friends share memories all the time; “You’ll never guess …”, “How was your day?”, and “Do you remember when …” are rich daily fodder.

Sharing memories is not only a good way to debrief and reminisce, we’re beginning to realise the process plays an important role in children’s psychological development and protects our memories as we advance in age.

Telling stories draws us together

We share memories of the past for many reasons. By telling a sad or difficult story - perhaps a fond memory of someone we have lost since last Christmas - we strengthen shared connections, offer sympathy and elicit support.

By telling a funny or embarrassing story - perhaps the time the dog stole the Christmas ham - we share feelings of joy or recognition of difficulties overcome, large or small. By sharing similar or not-so-similar experiences, we empathise with and understand one another better.

Talking about the past also helps create and maintain our individual and shared identities. We know who we are - whether as individuals, groups or communities - because our memories provide a database of evidence for events we have experienced and what they mean to us.

Even when some people missed out on an event, sharing a memory of it can shape their identity. Developmental psychologist Robyn Fivush and her team demonstrated this when they asked American adolescents to recount “intergenerational” stories: events from their parents’ lives they learnt via memories shared within the family, often around the dinner table.

Fivush found that the adolescents she tested could easily retell many of their parents’ memory stories. Most importantly, they made strong connections between these second-hand family memories and their own developing sense of identity: “my dad played soccer when he was young, so that got me started”.

Children who showed these kinds of family memory-self identity connections reported higher levels of well-being.

Teaching children how to remember

For young children, telling memory stories teaches them how to remember. From as young as two years of age children begin to show signs of autobiographical memory: memories of themselves and their lives.

Although these earliest memories often are fleeting (it is not until our third or fourth birthday that we start forming memories that last into adulthood), they are important because they show that children are learning how to be a rememberer.

Research by developmental psychologists consistently shows that the way parents and others talk to young children about the past is crucial for their memory development.

One of the best ways is to use what we call a “high elaborative” style. This involves prompting the child’s own contributions with open-ended questions (who, what, why, how) and extending on and adding structure to the child’s sometimes limited responses. Together, the parent and child can then jointly tell a memory story that is rich, full and comprehensible.

Children whose parents use this elaborative reminiscing style subsequently show stronger and more detailed memories. sean dreilinger/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

Consider this example from one of our studies where a mother and her four-year-old son reminisce about a favourite Christmas ritual:
Mother: … and you and Daddy put the Christmas tree up together, and then you put on decorations! What decorations did you put on?
Child: Um … the Christmas balls!
Mother: That’s right! Daddy bought Christmas balls and stars to hang on the tree. What colours were they?
Child: Red and gold.
Mother: Red and gold. Pretty red balls, and gold stars.
Child: And there was the paper circles too.
Notice how the mother guides the progress of her son’s recollections. She is mindful too of letting him contribute as much as he is able, scaffolding his memories with appropriate, open-ended and informative cues. She also reinforces and praises his contributions.

Not surprisingly, children whose parents use this elaborative reminiscing style subsequently show stronger and more detailed memories of their own past experiences.

Preschool children who are exposed to this style of reminiscing also develop stronger comprehension, vocabulary and literacy skills. And because we tend to remember and talk about emotionally meaningful events - events that make us happy, sad, scared - elaborative reminiscing helps children understand and learn to navigate difficult emotions and emotional memories.

These early practices have long-term consequences. Older children whose families narrate and discuss emotion-rich stories around the dinner table report higher levels of self-esteem and show greater resilience when faced with adversity.

It’s fine to disagree

Conversations about the past often require some degree of negotiation. Many studies highlight the value of collaborating in recall. That is, giving everyone a voice rather than letting one narrator dominate; particularly one voice that narrates other people’s memories as well as their own.

But what if someone seems to be telling the memory wrong? You’ve probably experienced the frustration of a brother, sister or cousin down the other end of the Christmas table mixing up the details of an event you both experienced. Or worse yet, claiming and recalling a childhood experience that you know happened to you and not to them.

It’s fine to disagree so long as everyone gets a voice. Evgeni Zotov/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

With young children still learning to remember, contradicting or ignoring their memory contributions - even if they contain source errors or inaccuracies - can shut the conversation down and discourage joint remembering.

But as we get older, we realise that others may have a different perspective on events. We realise that 100% accuracy is not the only or even the most important goal of remembering. As adults, disagreements about the past may in fact be a sign of a robust remembering system.

Scaffolding memory as we age

Sharing memories may also “scaffold” or support memory as we age. In a study just published, we first asked older adult couples (aged 60 to 88 years old) to individually remember various events experienced with their spouse over the past five years. All had been married for over 50 years, making them long-term, intimate life and memory partners.

One week later, we asked half of the couples to talk in detail with their spouse about their events and half to talk in detail with just the experimenter.

Compared with young adults, older adults working alone typically find it difficult to recall autobiographical memories in great detail. But when our older couples remembered with their spouse their memory stories were more detailed than the stories of couples who remembered alone.

Although collaboration did not lead young couples (aged 26 to 42 years old) to remember more, those who reported closer relationships with their spouse tended to recall more details of events shared with that spouse, even when they remembered alone. In other words, at this earlier stage of life, shared experiences and memories might primarily be serving intimacy and identity goals.

For older couples who have invested in strong, intimate relationships, they increasingly might need and look for external memory scaffolding as their internal memory abilities decline. These older couples may then start to reap the cognitive benefits of what they sowed with their partner, families and friends in a long life of living and remembering together.

If you have no immediate kin close by or close, do not despair. This research shows that it is how we talk about the past with loved ones that counts, not simply the biology of who we talk to. So this Christmas, come together with your “families”, whoever they are, and share one of the greatest, uniquely human, gifts of all: the gift of memory stories.
The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Innovation Through Experimentation is Key


The Wright brothers, Orville (August 19, 1871 - January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 - May 30, 1912), were two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers who were credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903.

From 1905 to 1907, the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft.
Although not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.
From 1900 until their first powered flights in late 1903, they conducted extensive glider tests that also developed their skills as pilots. Their bicycle shop employee Charlie Taylor became an important part of the team, building their first aircraft engine in close collaboration with the brothers. 

Trial and error

Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, did not build the networking site into a $1-billion valued company in one day. He developed his skills and tested ideas while launching and experimenting at SocialNet and PayPal.

Kevin Systrom, founder of Instagram developed his skills, experimented ideas while working  at Google, Odeo, Twitter and Facebook, before launching his successful venture. “The most pivotal moment for us was when we decided to stop working on Burbn (the mobile HTML5 checkin app) and start work on what would become Instagram”, confessed Kevin.

Going back to my son, he rode his bike for the first time last spring. He worked really hard to learn how to ride.

Did he work out the theory of how to do it, jump on the bike, and start riding flawlessly? Did he follow my advice on what to do and what not to do? No. He started with training wheels and worked it out through trial and error, with determination, repetition while focusing on the end goal.
Experimenting is a critical innovation skill. None of us think twice about learning to ride a bike through trial and error, so why is it so rare in business?
There are two main reasons: One is risk and failure aversion. In a work or school setting, our brains are formatted to learn theory and what the outcome should be instead of experimenting through trial and error. People don’t like to make mistakes, and they don’t like to look foolish, whether it is an adult or a child. Trial-and-error can cause both of these things to happen when things don’t work out as expected.

The second reason is that our organizational cultures are often not designed to experimenting. In larger organizations, we are often trying to improve efficiency. Doing this means that we must reduce variation and risk. But innovation and experimentation increase variation. There is a tension between efficiency and innovation.

However, the benefits of experimenting outweigh these issues. The problem that experimenting solves is this: it’s nearly impossible to know in advance which ideas will work and which won’t. If we experiment, instead of guessing which ideas will work, we can test them. This helps us get better making decisions based on data.

At a Centric event last year, John Evans from Allegion explained how his company is able to kill or shelf innovation if first results are not encouraging. It is important to encourage, allow space and time for experimentation, and coach employees that potential failures are just a way to learn how to better products.

Failures are just a part in the innovation process, not a discouraging and painful end. When first results are not looking positive, John Evans’s team will either merely kill the project, or shelf it for future opportunities and experiments. Allegion employees understand that some experiments may not prove to be successful, but it is not the end, just a step (back) in the innovation process.

In the experimentation process, budget and time should not be a concern. As soon as we put barriers (budget constraints, time constraints, failure aversion), we kill the intent to create, innovate. Creativity and innovation only thrive when there is no boundaries, no aversion of failure, wasting time or money.

When the Ford factory in Detroit made a 3D printer available to its employees, it never imagined that the number of new patents registered would jump by 30 percent the first year! One Ford employee, for example, designed and produced a defogging valve prototype.

If he had not been able to test his idea easily, he would have probably given up before it could take shape and be developed. Providing experimentation tools thus makes it possible to release great innovation potential, invaluable in times of crisis. The material and technical obstacles to experimentation are being lifted.

Many tools are free or can be pooled, relieving the need to request additional budget. It is no longer necessary to engage experts, because prototyping tools can often be utilized intuitively. When technical skills are needed, the existence of dedicated communities makes it possible to receive immediate assistance. Technically, just about anyone can thus develop his or her own prototypes.

On the other hand, intangible obstacles persist. Providing tools for experimentation is not enough to change the company culture. Many teams never or only belatedly consider developing even rough prototypes. So how can one capitalize on these new opportunities and make experimentation an everyday practice? 

Enlighten innovation through experimentation



Eric Ries promotes a core method for experimentation. Although the Lean Startup method is essentially built for tech start-up companies, it can be applied and customized to any type of business.

Here is a method you can apply:

Ideation: form a team of various skills, expertise. Collide ideas and define what need the product or service might fill. Focus on the opportunities, not the obstacles.
Build: anything can be prototyped (product, service, customer/user experience, business model …).
Test: test not only the practicality of the prototype, but validate on a small market or through trials.
Measurement: gather qualitative and quantitative data, user insight, and figure out what works and what does not work.
Learn: from the data and insight collected, apply what you’ve learned, either to make adjustment (go back to build) or to launch. After the launch, we have to accept that we may not have made the perfect product or service right away, but that it is a opportunity to improve it and perfect it along the way, by taking consumer feedback and consumer insights.

If you’re a change agent in your organization, encourage your team to do this as well. As people get better at, things will start to improve. And you’ll start to build a culture of experimentation.
It’s like learning to ride a bike.
image credit: wright-brothers.org

Source: Lean start-up – http://theleanstartup.com/principles

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Walking: The Secret Ingredient for Health, Wealth, and More Exciting Neighborhoods

Walking in city photo from Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock
by , Yes! magazine: http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/walking-is-going-places

Walking is going places. Over recent decades, walking has come to be widely viewed as a slow, tiresome, old-fashioned way to get around.

But that’s changing now as Americans recognize that traveling by foot can be a health breakthrough, an economic catalyst, and the route to happiness.

Is walking the next big thing?

Look to the media to give you an answer. Popular lifestyle magazine Real Simple declared it “America’s Untrendiest Trend” on its February cover. A month later Builder, a construction trade journal, announced something similar on its cover: “Walkability. Why We Care … and Why You Should Too.”

A new book called A Philosophy of Walking, reviewed in The New Yorker, asserts that walking “makes it possible to recover the pure sensation of being, to rediscover the simple joy of existing.”

And one of the year’s top music videos, “Happy” by soul singer Pharrell Williams, shows all kinds of people strutting, stepping, striding, and sashaying down city streets. It’s an exuberant celebration of walking and has been viewed more than 500 million times on YouTube.

There is sure to be continuing coverage of foot power next year when the Surgeon General’s office releases a Call to Action on the health and social benefits of walking and walkable communities - a step some are comparing to the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on the dangers of smoking.

Already the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all adults engage in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as walking, five days a week. It has been proven to lower incidences of major medical problems - not just heart disease, diabetes and obesity, as you might expect, but also depression, dementia, and other serious conditions.

This flurry of attention about walking is more than a flash in the pan. Evidence that millions of Americans are now rediscovering walking to fulfill their transportation, fitness, and recreation needs is as solid as the ground beneath our feet. 

Americans Are Getting Back on their Feet

“Walking is the most common form of physical activity across incomes and ages and education levels,” explained Thomas Schmid of the federal CDC at a conference in Pittsburgh last fall. The CDC’s most recent research shows that the number of Americans who walk for leisure or fitness at least once a week rose to 62% in 2010 from 56% in 2005 - that’s almost 20 million more people on their feet.

Walking is already more prevalent across the United States than most of us realize. Paul Herberling of the U.S. Department of Transportation noted that 10.4% of all trips Americans make are on foot - and 28% of trips under a mile. For young people, it’s 17% of all trips. Americans walk most frequently for exercise, errands, and recreation, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Last year the first ever Walking Summit was held in Washington, D.C., drawing more than 400 people from 41 states and Canada. A second summit is scheduled for October 28-30, 2015, in D.C.

The 2013 summit, which sold out weeks in advance, marked the birth of a new walking movement committed to: encouraging everyone to walk more; and boosting policies, practices, and investments that make communities everywhere more walkable.

It was convened by the Every Body Walk! Collaborative, a joint effort involving more than 100 influential organizations across many fields to promote walking as part of the solution to problems ranging from chronic disease and health care costs, to climate change and the decline of community.

Walking also strengthens our social connections, which have been shown to be as important to health as physical activity, says Kaiser Permanente Vice-President Tyler. The more we are out walking, the more people in our community we come to know.

Americans overwhelmingly view walking as a good thing, according to a national survey . Here’s what it found:

- Good for my health (94 percent)
- Good way to lose weight (91 percent)
- Great way to relax (89 percent)
- Helps reduce anxiety (87 percent)
- Reduces feelings of depression (85 percent) 

Americans Are Voting With Their Feet

Even the American dream is being remodeled to meet the public’s growing enthusiasm for walking. 60% of Americans would prefer to live in neighborhoods with stores and services within easy walking distance, according to a recent survey from the National Association of Realtors - nearly twice as many who want to live where stores can be reached only by car.

This is especially true for the millennial generation, which is now entering the workforce and housing market in large numbers and will shape the future of American life as dramatically as the baby boomers did in the 1960s and 1970s.

“With drastically different views of transportation from those of generations that came before them, millennials are transforming communities,” notes another report from the National Association of Realtors. “Millennials own fewer cars and drive less than their predecessors. They’d rather walk, bike, car-share, and use public transportation - and want to live where that’s all easy.” 

Why Walking? Why Now?

What’s driving the growing passion for walking? “It’s a convergence of factors,” says Christopher Leinberger, a real estate developer, George Washington University business professor, and a leading advocate for walkable communities. Those factors are:

1. The well-established link between walking and better health , which is reinforced by recent research pointing to the dangers of sitting for long periods of time. A comprehensive study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition that charts 240,000 Americans between ages 50 and 71 found that “overall [time] sitting was associated with all-cause mortality”.

2. The accelerating costs of owning one, two, or more cars, which many Americans, especially younger people, find a poor investment of their resources. Transportation is now the highest cost in family budgets (19%) next to housing (32%). In auto-dependent communities - where walking is inconvenient and unsafe - transportation costs (25%) approach housing costs (32%).

3. Metropolitan areas with many walkable neighborhoods do better economically than those with just a few. Leinberger’s recent report “ Foot Traffic Ahead“ finds that walkable metropolitan areas “have substantially higher GDPs per capita” and a higher percentage of college graduates. Office space in walkable locations enjoys a 74% rent-per-square-foot premium over offices in auto-oriented developments in America’s 30 largest metropolitan regions.

4. More people discovering the personal satisfactions of walking. “Seeing friends on the street, walking to work, strolling out for dinner or nightlife” are among the pleasures of walking that enrich our lives, says Leinberger. 

Walking Means Business

Firms in the booming tech, information, and creative industries are at the forefront of the trend toward walkable communities because the coveted young talent they need to stay competitive want to work in places that are a short stroll from cafes and cultural attractions.

The first thing Google did after buying the electronics firm Motorola Mobility was to move its headquarters away from the freeways and strip malls of Libertyville, Illinois, to the walkable environs of downtown Chicago.

“They felt like they couldn’t attract the young software engineers they needed” to an isolated 84-acre complex, says Leinberger. Other companies that recently moved from suburban Chicago to the city include Medline, Walgreen’s, Gogo, GE Transportation, Hillshire Brands, and Motorola Solutions.

“Two things seem to resonate for businesses about the importance of walkability - how to attract the best workforce and wanting to locate in communities where health costs are lower,” says Mark Fenton, a former U.S. National Team race walker who now consults on public health planning and transportation. Employees with more opportunities to walk at work and at home are healthier, meaning lower insurance rates for their firms.

From his vantage point at the CDC, Thomas Schmid observes, “If a business is located in a community that is not healthy, they’re paying more to be there. Think of it as a tax or cost of doing business because of health care costs.” One company relocating to Chattanooga, he said, would do so only if a walking and bike trail was extended to their facility. 

The Challenges to a More Walkable America

The walking movement has picked up a lot of momentum in a very short time. “The wind is behind our sails,” says Kate Kraft, a public health expert working with EBWC and America Walks. But she goes on to note that “it took 80 years to make America unwalkable, and it will take a lot of work to make it walkable again.”

Last year’s national survey on attitudes about walking accentuates these challenges. By a huge majority, people say that walking is good for them but admit that they should walk more (79%) and that their children should walk more (73%). Only 11% say they meet the CDC’s recommended daily minimum for walking - half an hour a day, five days a week.

Common reasons cited for not walking are:

- My neighborhood is not very walkable (40 percent)
- Few places within walking distance of my home (40 percent)
- Don’t have time (39 percent)
- Speeding traffic or lack of sidewalks (25 percent)
- Crime in my neighborhood (13 percent) 

Solutions for a More Walkable America

Here are some of the promising developments, strategies, messages, and tools that are now emerging to promote walking:

Vision Zero for Safe Streets: As many as 4,500 Americans are killed crossing the street every year - a tragedy that very few people acknowledge. But there’s hope that will change now that New York City, San Francisco, and other places are implementing Vision Zero campaigns to reduce traffic deaths through street improvements, law enforcement, and public education. Similar policies in Sweden cut pedestrian deaths in half over the past five years - and reduced overall traffic fatalities at the same rate. “Vision Zero is the next big thinking for walking,” says Alliance for Biking & Walking President Jeff Miller.

Federal Action Plan on Pedestrian Safety: New U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx recently announced an all-out effort to apply the department’s resources to boost bike and pedestrian safety the same as they do auto and airline safety. Secretary Foxx - former mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina - notes that pedestrian deaths rose 6% since 2009. “Bicycling and walking is as important as any other form of transportation,” he says.

Safe Routes to Schools: Half of kids under 14 walked or biked to school in 1969. Now it’s less than 15%. Safe Routes to School campaigns work with families, schools, and community officials to identify and eliminate barriers that block kids from getting to school under their own power. “We’re finding that the best interventions include both infrastructure improvements and programming. You put the sidewalks in but also get parents involved,” explains Margo Pedroso, deputy director of the Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership.

Walking as a Basic Human Right: Walking has been shown to optimize our health and strengthen our communities, which means everyone should have equal opportunity to do it. But low-income people often find it difficult or dangerous to take a walk in their neighborhoods, which often lack sidewalks and other basic infrastructure. Studies show that pedestrians in poor neighborhoods are up to four times more likely to be injured in traffic accidents. This theme is now being addressed by many transportation activists and professionals.

Communities for People of All Ages: The mark of a great community is whether you’d feel calm about letting your 80-year-old grandmother or 8-year-old son walk to a nearby park or business district, says Gil Penalosa, former park director of Bogota, explaining why he founded 8-80 Cities. Too many young and old people today live under virtual house arrest, unable to get anywhere on their own because driving is the only way to go.

Complete Streets: The simple idea that all streets should offer safe, convenient, and comfortable travel for everyone - those on foot, on bike, on transit, in wheelchairs, young, old or disabled. Twenty-seven states and 625 local communities across the U.S. have adopted Complete Streets policies in some form.

The Healing Properties of Nature and the Outdoors: Not all exercise offers the same health benefits, according to a growing body of research showing that outdoor physical activity, especially in nature, boosts our health, improves our concentration, and may speed up our natural healing process. A walk in the park is not only more interesting than a workout at the gym, but it may also be healthier too. The Wingspread Declaration - recently signed by 30 of America’s leading health officials, researchers, and non-profit leaders - calls for business, government, and the health care sector to step up efforts to reconnect people with nature.

Walking as a Medical Vital Sign: There’s an initiative afoot among public health advocates to encourage health care professionals to chart their patients’ physical activity the same as they do weight, blood pressure, smoking, and family health. Ascension Health (with 1900 facilities in 23 states), Kaiser Permanente (648 facilities in 9 states), Group Health (25 clinics in Washington state), and Greenville Health System (7 facilities in South Carolina) are among the health providers already doing it.

Walk With a Doc: Walking has the lowest drop-out rate of any physical activity, which is why Ohio cardiologist David Sabgir started Walk With a Doc: to sponsor events in parks and other public places where people can talk to health care professionals while taking a casual walk. Walk With a Doc now operates in 38 states.

Signs of the Times: Many people are so out of practice with walking that they don’t realize how convenient it is. That’s why architecture student Matt Tamasulo posted signs in Raleigh, North Carolina, explaining that key destinations were only a few minutes away by foot. The city soon embraced his guerrilla campaign, and official walkway-finding signs can now be found around town. Tamasulo has launched Walk [Your City] to help other communities show how easy it is to get around on your own power.

Walking is Fun: “Walking is still not seen to be as sexy as biking,” says Robert Ping, program manager for Walking and Livable Communities Institute. “We could focus more on walking as recreation - the stroll through the neighborhood after dinner, going around the block, walking down to the park, meeting your neighbors. Something that’s not only utilitarian and good for the environment, but that’s fun!”


Jay Walljasper writes, speaks, edits and consults about creating stronger, more vital communities. He is author of The Great Neighborhood Book and All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons. He is also a contributor to Sustainable Happiness: Live Simply, Live Well, Make a Difference, from YES! Magazine. His website: JayWalljasper.com.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Family Beat: What Makes Families Resilient in the Face of Challenge

English: A photograph of a 2 month old human i...
Four generations (Wikipedia)
by , Deseret News: http://national.deseretnews.com/article/3072/the-family-beat-what-makes-families-resilient-in-the-face-of-challenge.html

Lisa Salberg became “Mom” to her own niece and nephew after her beloved sister died. Ron Williams scrambled away from a neglectful, abusive childhood and his own later mistakes to become a good husband and father, pastor, soldier and fitness expert.

Michelle Eborn figured out how to parent her children alone in the midst of sorrow after her husband, Chris, died unexpectedly. Caleb Dunham left behind wars overseas only to battle internal conflicts at home. He has post-traumatic stress disorder and his family is benefiting from a program that provides dogs as companions and helpers.

This is a small cross-section of the families I’ve written about - and learned from - this year while covering the family beat for the Deseret News. Each faced challenges they didn’t expect and for which they felt unprepared.

Family life is not always what couples picture on their wedding day or what kids expect as they plan their lives. The day-to-day of family life is both rewarding and fraught with challenge. But some families rise above anything that's thrown at them and thrive - and it's usually a group effort.

As I write this, I’m picturing Lisa Speckman, a nurse and mom who lost multiple limbs to an infection right after giving birth to her second child. She almost died more than once, but I’ve met very few people as active and fearless as she is. She volunteers in her daughters' classrooms, and she and her family continue to enjoy activities together from traveling to skiing.

One who rivals her, though, overcoming an entirely different set of challenges, is Arvie Burgos. The teenager was in foster care for some time because his dad was absent, his mom used drugs and his grandmother - the light of his life - died. Sometimes family can let a kid down, but Burgos managed to remain hopeful, carve out deep and caring relationships and earned his high school diploma this year.

If I were whipping together a recipe for overcoming challenges, the first ingredient I’d toss in would be resilience, something both Speckman and Burgos showed. It’s a topic my colleague Marjorie Cortez and I explored this year, documenting the power it has to right lives that have veered off track, often as a result of unexpected calamity.

Family is a big part of what kids need to thrive and overcome. And the science on that is clear: Kids need actively involved, loving parents - both mom and dad. We explored the impact that absent fathers have on their children's lives during a joint project this year with The Atlantic.

I’m a mom with teenage daughters, so I am naturally interested in what makes families do well. Talking to families who have faced difficulties and experts who have studied what works has given me a chance to not only share stories with readers, but improve my own parenting skills.

Taking a broad look at family life and then focusing in on how some families handle the specific challenges we all face has given me some great ideas, and I hope it has done the same for readers.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Resilient Leadership

English: Resilience of nature Despite falling,...
Resilience of nature - still flowering new branches (Wikipedia)
by Jesus Gil Hernandez, Psychology, Management, and Leadership: http://jesusgilhernandez.com/2014/12/14/resilient-leadership/

The belief that leaders have the endless stamina, ideas, and skills it takes to deliver success year after year is a fallacy of the past.

Thus, resilience, the ability to bounce back, cope, renew, and revitalize, has become a key watchword for today’s savvy leaders. The point isn’t to learn to fail, it is to learn to bounce back.

Learning to be resilient is a full-time job, which never stops. Resilience is hard. It requires the courage to confront painful realities, the faith that there will be a solution when one isn’t immediately evident, and the tenacity to carry on despite a nagging gut feeling that the situation is hopeless.

When facing a difficult or challenging situation, it is natural to fall out of balance. The most important first step is to recognize and acknowledge that you are off balance. Once you reach this awareness, you can consciously take action to regain your foothold by engaging in a set of grounding and centering practices, allowing you to channel your energy more adaptively and constructively.

Resilience is the ability to recover from fumbles or outright mistakes and bounce back. But flexibility alone is not enough. You have to learn from your errors.

Those with resilience build on the cornerstones of confidence - accountability (taking responsibility and showing remorse), collaboration (supporting others in reaching a common goal), and initiative (focusing on positive steps and improvements). These factors underpin the resilience of people, teams, and organizations that can stumble but resume winning.

Resilience draws from strength of character, from a core set of values that motivate efforts to overcome the setback and resume walking the path to success. It involves self-control and willingness to acknowledge one’s own role in defeat.

Resilience also thrives on a sense of community - the desire to pick oneself up because of an obligation to others and because of support from others who want the same thing. Resilience is manifested in actions - a new contribution, a small win, a goal that takes attention off of the past and creates excitement about the future.

No-one can completely avoid troubles and potential pitfalls are everywhere, so the real skill is the resilience to climb out of the hole and bounce back.

Summing-up: Potential troubles lurk around every corner, whether they stem from unexpected environmental jolts or individual flaws and mistakes. Whatever the source, what matters is how we deal with them. When surprises are the new normal, resilience is the new skill.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rethinking Unemployment: Why We Need to Invest in Children

SCHOOL IPADby , CEO and Executive Director of The Child Center of NY, Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/traci-donnelly/rethinking-unemployment-w_b_6303336.html

Feelings of security, confidence, and self-reliance; a supportive relationship with a caring adult - a child needs all of these in order to learn and grow.

By helping children understand their potential and make good use of their strengths, we can better prepare them for a full, happy life.

These aren't just platitudes - they are the results of long research into what helps kids succeed. And when they inform our policy, they can help break the generational cycle of poverty.

Recently, Mayor de Blasio began phasing out the city's Work Experience Program (WEP), known as workfare, the Giuliani-era program that requires welfare recipients to work low-level city jobs.

The move only caused a minor ripple in the press, and won't mean much for the city or for the unemployed poor (only 9,100 people are enrolled in this program today, compared to 36,000 fifteen years ago). But it marks a welcome shift in our city's attitude toward the poor - and a chance to create real change with the best new practices.

Workfare was essentially a penalty for being out of work, not a legitimate opportunity to get ahead. It allowed no sick days or vacation days, and the most a participant could "earn" was full welfare benefits - only three-fourths of the poverty level.

The jobs required little or no training, offered no chance for promotion and gave workers no valuable skills. The program was meant, as City College associate professor John Krinsky noted, "to deter people from applying for aid in the first place."

Worse, workfare created a damaging public perception of the unemployed: that someone receiving government assistance was only suited for a few kinds of entry-level jobs, as if anyone who qualified for welfare would only ever be interested in, or capable of, sweeping subway stations for a living.

We know better than that now. We know that growing up poor can keep people from fulfilling their potential, leaving them with few options to improve their lives, and perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Providing educational opportunities for the chronically unemployed is an important part of breaking the cycle, as the mayor understands.

To replace workfare, the city will begin offering "transitional employment programs, internships, and community service positions," Rachel Swarns wrote in the New York Times.

De Blasio has already allowed welfare recipients who attend a four-year college to be exempted from the workfare program. All of these approaches generally work better than the workfare model in helping people find and keep jobs.

But to really find lasting solutions for chronic unemployment, we can't focus only on the unemployed. We have to start in childhood, with measures that help children build on their strengths and thrive despite difficult circumstances.

Some of these approaches have already garnered broad support, like universal pre-kindergarten, which closes the gap for children in poverty and helps them enter kindergarten at the level of their peers.

Surprisingly, one of our best opportunities to help children find a path to a happy, healthy adulthood is still not widely used, despite a relatively low cost and years of research that shows how well it works.

This is an approach based on resilience, the inner strengths, skills and attitudes that help children handle challenges. Resilience has been shown to be crucial for academic as well as lifelong success. Highly resilient students feel more confident and in control, and have better attendance and better grades. They form more positive relationships, are more resourceful, and make better decisions.

Often, children in poverty don't get the support and nurturing they need to find their inner resources. But the best thing about resilience is that it is easily taught. A program that we are implementing in our middle school after-school programs this fall, called Success Highways, helps students identify their strengths and learn how to use them.

Youth advocates provide students in the program with mentoring and support. In pilot programs of more than 7000 students in major city school systems nationwide, Success Highways produced remarkable results. The program helped students improve across multiple measures, with 23% higher GPAs, 19% more courses passed, and 17% more credits earned.

Teachers in these studies also reported better behavior, engagement, confidence, perseverance and college and career readiness - all qualities that prepare students for life after school. As Swarns notes, some 60% of welfare recipients did not graduate from high school.

Disengaged, poorly performing students have higher rates of adult unemployment and lower earnings as adults. We may not be able to change a child's circumstances, but if we can help her become more resilient, we can help change the course of her life.

The shift away from workfare is a shift toward thinking of people not as a burden, or cheap labor, but in terms of their potential. The choices we make in our educational policy should reflect that shift. The world opens up to children when they are equipped to explore it, and as a society, we all benefit when children grow up prepared to find the work, and the life, they love.

Giuliani said that workfare gave people "the gift of their own independence," when in fact it sharply limited that independence. Helping children find their independence themselves may be the best gift that we can give.

Traci Donnelly is CEO and Executive Director of The Child Center of NY.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Parents Can Help Teens be More Resilient

English: Jump! Deutsch: Spring!
Jump! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Dr. Peter Nieman, Calgary Herald: http://calgaryherald.com/health/family-child/parents-can-help-teens-be-more-resilient

A teen turns 16 and is excited to get his driver’s licence. The days before the test are stressful and the parents notice the teen to be a bit more irritable than usual.

He excuses himself from the supper table to be alone in his room. He does not sleep well, eats erratically and skips gym at school.

A few days later the teen passes his driver’s test and one of his first trips is to drive to a friend’s house.

Later he returns home and secludes himself in his bedroom located in the basement where he is known to spend hours playing video games, texting friends, or surfing the Internet using his smart phone.

At midnight the mother detects an odour coming up from the basement. She wanders down and discovers her son is smoking marijuana. He informs her that he does that because it relaxes him and that he read online that cigarettes and alcohol are more dangerous than “weed.” The mom is shocked to find a pair of condoms in the teen’s bathroom.

In one night, the family discovers that in retrospect the teen was depressed, used marijuana to self-medicate and had sex to cope with stress. They never saw it coming; they were told that most teens are moody, sleep poorly and like to be with friends more than the parents.

This is not an unusual story and perhaps many parents of teens can identify with it. Stressed adolescents, in increasing numbers, are showing up in doctor’s offices. Mental health experts are finding it harder and harder to cope with an ever-increasing volume of depressed teens who lack resilience to cope with life and who even go as far as harming themselves.

A recent report by the Canadian Institute of Health Information says the number of teens cutting themselves has increased significantly. The report, which was launched Nov. 18, indicates that girls are four times more likely to be hospitalized for self-harm (see www.cihi.ca for more information).

Psychologists, successful parents, authors of best-selling books on parenting and pediatricians specializing in adolescent care could argue that the parents in the story above should never have been blind-sided.

They may argue that the parents bought the teen a cellphone when he was too young; that video games should have been monitored more closely and that the parents should have been better listeners. They may also argue that stress in teens is nothing new and that good parenting requires unconditional love and spending lots of time with children.

What is not debatable is that one of the biggest gifts a parent can give a child is to help him or her develop resilience. Resilience is defined as the capacity to rise above difficult circumstances, allowing our children to exist in this less-than-perfect world, while moving forward with optimism and confidence.

Given the steady increase of teens with depression and anxiety and the dwindling resources - often incredibly hard to access - one wonders about the role of prevention. Can we be more proactive?

Dr. Ken Ginsburg is a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He is the author of Building Resilience in Children and Teens and also the host of the website www.fosteringresilience.com

In his book Ginsburg discusses what he calls the “7 C s of Resilience.” These are: competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control. He refers to adolescence as “a time to learn how to walk through life’s puddles.”

One way to help a teen cope with stress (navigate these puddles), is to build up his or her confidence by using praise. In an era where some parenting experts and teachers lament the fact that praise is often given just for showing up at school, Ginsburg explains that giving praise is indeed an art.

To illustrate ... instead of saying, “You are so smart,” a better way may be, “I love watching you think. You work so hard to figure things out.” And instead of saying, “I am so proud of your grades,” comment “I think you did well because you really studied.  I really admire how well you’ll search for the answers and get help until you feel confident. It paid off.”

Ginsburg also teamed up with the American Academy of Pediatrics to develop terrific resources for parents on the topic of instilling resilience. In my own clinic. I have bookmarked www.healthychildren.org/BuildingResilience  on the computers in the exam rooms. It is a great way to instantly share more information with parents and teens.

The Psychology Foundation of Canada launched their own program on how stress impacts children and teens. For more information see www.kidshavestresstoo.org

Dr. Nieman is a Calgary-based pediatrician. He is host of www.healthykids.ca and serves as the Alberta Chapter President of the American Academy of  Pediatrics. He appears biweekly on CTV Morning Live.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lonely Over Christmas: A Snapshot of Social Isolation in the Suburbs

Scorpions and Centaurs/Flickr
by Melanie Davern, University of Melbourne and Lucy Gunn, University of Melbourne

Social isolation and loneliness are becoming common in our large cities.

Our cities are sprawling, housing is becoming more unaffordable, people are travelling further and longer in their cars and household size is shrinking.

These factors all affect our physical and mental health resulting in increasing chronic diseases and often more socially isolated and lonely people.

During the festive season, these problems can be intensified.

So what exactly is social isolation? Socially isolated people don’t have strong social connections or interactions with other people placing them at risk of low self-esteem, higher levels of coronary heart disease, depression, anxiety and below normal levels of happiness or subjective wellbeing.

A community snapshot of metropolitan Melbourne, Melbourne Vital Signs 2014, reveals a number of factors likely to influence social isolation.

The report reveals that in Melbourne one in five households spent more than 30% of their household income on housing. It shows that incidences of family violence have increased by 16% between 2012 and 2013. More than 13% of youth aged 15-19 years are not engaged at all in work or study. Finally, more than 18,500 people are estimated to be homeless in metropolitan Melbourne.

These are just a few of the factors related to where and how people live that contribute to social isolation in the suburbs.

Transport accessibility is another important influence of social isolation. It not only links people to work and study opportunities but also to socially connect with people, linking people to places where social interactions occur.

Getting around is difficult for many people living beyond the transport rich areas of inner city and close to 25% of Melburnians report inconvenience to their daily lives arising from transport, with the oldest and youngest having the most trouble getting around.

Life also becomes more car-dependent in the outer suburbs and a recent local government community survey found that 81% of residents drive to work, leaving little time or energy to connect or volunteer with local community.

Limited transport affects people’s ability to access employment and education opportunities associated with feelings of achievement and productivity and social interactions. More generally, it’s very hard to socialise, build relationships and new networks (needed to get a job) when transport is limited or restricted to car ownership.

So what would the ideal neighbourhood look like if it promoted wellbeing and reduced social isolation?

It would be safe, attractive, socially cohesive and inclusive - and environmentally sustainable. It would include diverse and affordable housing. There would be convenient public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure that was linked to employment, education, public open space, local shops, health and community services, and leisure and cultural opportunities.

It would be a neighbourhood that provides for the needs of all people across the lifespan - children, youth, adults and older adults - embraces diversity and difference, and has active, informed and engaged residents.

Melbourne has been named the world’s most liveable city for the last 4 years. There remain, however, many challenges we need to work at to reduce social isolation in this city and many others across the country.

People need to access services they need within close distance, a “20 minute city” where neighbourhoods have key services available within a 20 minute distance. Higher densities that provide more local employment opportunities and greater services reducing sprawl and helping to connect people to places, and most importantly, more easily to each other.

Social isolation is not an issue specific to the festive season but it can be harder for those people who have few people to connect with. So over the coming weeks, as life becomes busier in the lead up to Christmas and the end of the year, it might also be a good time to reflect on our own lives and think about how we can create more connected and inclusive communities.

It might be as simple as saying “hello” to someone on the train, talking to a neighbour or smiling at someone when you’re shopping or walking in your local area. Think about donating a gift or toy for someone who needs it more than you, volunteering your time like 6 million other Australians, or inviting someone without family or friends to join your Christmas meal.

These might sound like very simple activities - but if everyone put their phone down for a little while maybe we could just bring a little more human kindness to the world and improve social isolation in the suburbs.
The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Theory of Cumulative Stress: How to Recover When Stress Builds Up

The Theory of Cumulative Stress- How to Recover When Stress Builds Upby James Clear, Positively Positive: http://www.positivelypositive.com/2014/10/26/the-theory-of-cumulative-stress-how-to-recover-when-stress-builds-up/

It was my first year of graduate school and my professor was standing at the front of the room.

He was telling our class about a mistake he made years before.

About a decade earlier, my professor had been one of the senior executives at Sears, Roebuck & Company, the large department store chain. They were in the middle of a massive national campaign and preparing for a major brand launch. My professor was leading the operation.

For almost two months prior to the launch day, he was flying all over the country to strike up buzz with major partners and media companies. While criss-crossing the country on flight after flight, he was also trying to run his department from the road.

For weeks on end he would meet with the media and business partners all day, answer emails and phone calls all night, squeeze in three or four hours of sleep, and wake up to do it all over again.

The week before the big launch day, his body gave out on him. He had to be rushed to the hospital. Major organs had started to fail from the chronic stress. He spent the next eight days lying in a hospital bed, unable to do anything as the launch day came and went.

Your Bucket of Health and Energy 

Imagine that your health and energy are a bucket of water. In your day-to-day life, there are things that fill your bucket up. These are inputs like sleep, nutrition, meditation, stretching, laughter, and other forms of recovery.

There are also forces that drain the water from your bucket. These are outputs like lifting weights or running, stress from work or school, relationship problems, or other forms of stress and anxiety. [1]

recovery bucket


The forces that drain your bucket aren’t all negative, of course. To live a productive life, it can be important to have some of the things flowing out of your bucket. Working hard in the gym, at school, or at the office allows you to produce something of value. But even positive outputs are still outputs and they drain your energy accordingly.

These outputs are cumulative. Even a little leak can result in significant water loss over time.

The Theory of Cumulative Stress

I usually lift heavy three days per week. For a long time, I thought I should be able to handle four days per week. However, every time I added the extra workout in, I would be just fine for a few weeks and then end up exhausted or slightly injured about a month into the program.

This was frustrating. Why could I handle it for four or five weeks, but not longer than that?

Eventually I realized the issue: stress is cumulative. Three days per week was a pace I could sustain. When I added that fourth day in, the additional stress started to build and accumulate. At some point, the burden became too big and I would get exhausted or injured.

In extreme cases, like that of my professor, this snowball of stress can start to roll so fast that it pushes you to the brink of death. But it’s important to realize that cumulative stress is something that you’re dealing with even when it isn’t a matter of life or death.

The stress of extra workouts or additional mileage. The stress of building a business or finishing an important project. The stress of parenting your young children or dealing with a bad boss or caring for your aging parents. It all adds up.

Keeping Your Bucket Full

If you want to keep your bucket full, you have two options.
  1. Refill your bucket on a regular basis. That means catching up on sleep, making time for laughter and fun, eating enough to maintain solid energy levels, and otherwise making time for recovery.
  2. Let the stressors in your life accumulate and drain your bucket. Once you hit empty, your body will force you to rest through injury and illness. Just like it did with my professor.

Recovery is Not Negotiable

I’m in the middle of a very heavy squat program right now (it’s called the Smolov squat program. If you’re interested, I put the spreadsheet up here).

I’ve spent the last two years training with really easy weights and gradually working my way up to heavier loads. I’ve built a solid foundation of strength. But even with that foundation, the weights on this program are heavy and the intensity is high.

Because of this, I’m taking special care to allow myself additional recovery. I’m allowed to sleep longer than usual. If I need to eat more, so be it. Usually, I’m lazy about stretching and foam rolling, but I have been rolling my little heart out every day for the last few weeks. I’m doing whatever I can do to balance the stress and recovery deficit that this squat program is placing on me.
Why?

Because recovery is not negotiable. You can either make time to rest and rejuvenate now or make time to be sick and injured later.

Keep your bucket full. @james_clear (Click to Tweet!)

[1] My image of the bucket was inspired by the original idea of the stress and recovery bucket mentioned in Paul Chek’s book, How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy!
Thanks to Mark Watts for originally sharing with me the idea that stress is cumulative.

James Clear writes at JamesClear.com, where he shares ideas for using behavior science to help you master your habits, do better work, and improve your health. For useful ideas on improving your mental and physical performance, join his free newsletter.

For more ideas on how to set schedules and stick to habits for the long-term, read my free 45-page guide: Transform Your Habits.
Featured image courtesy of Nicolo Paternoster.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

7 Resilience Strategies that Help Me Survive Challenges and Adversity in My Life

7_strategies_that_help_me_live_a_resilient_lifeby , Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: http://www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/blog/7-resilience-strategies-that-help-me-survive-challenges-adversity-in-my-life/

Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive” - Jamais Casci.

The word Resilience has its origin in the Latin word resilĂ­re, which means, To leap back or, as I like to say: bounce back. Resilience helps to make certain the uncertain things in our lives. Knowing how to “bounce back” from adversity and life challenges is something that all of us are able to do - we just need to know HOW. 

My Story of Resilience 

Every great personal story you have to tell involves overcoming adversity. If you shy away from adversity, you take away your ability to tell new stories” - Farrell Droke.

I love listening to people’s stories. Their stories inspired and motivated me to make changes, become stronger, and take control of how I responded to challenging events in my life. So, I thought I would share with you my story about how I began my journey to living a resilient life.

My father died March 24th 2005 and my mother collapsed at his gravesite and died March 27th 2005. It was this moment in my life where resilience and I began our journey. With the sudden loss of my parents my life crumbled. I felt destroyed at the time; for months I was numb and in pain. I wanted to crawl into a cupboard and hide from the world. However, I couldn’t, because I had a young family to take care for, a husband, and life kept going.

I never considered myself a resilient person, mainly because I never really understood what resilience was all about. I believed that in order to be considered a resilient person you had to achieve amazing feats, be an adventurer who went and explored undiscovered places or climbed really high mountains.
Resilient people were distant from me and not part of my life or my reality. It was only after the death of my parents I came to value and respect the power of resilience in my life. 

The Power of Making One Decision 

Three months after my parents death I was reading a magazine article about 3 women who had just completed the New York Marathon. The women were asked why they started running. One of them said that she started running because it helped her deal with the pain of losing her daughter. She said that running every morning helped her survive and get through each day.

I had been looking for a way where I could manage my pain and survive through the day. Even though I wanted to hide away from the world, deep down I knew I couldn’t. I was desperate to find a way to ease my pain and if running had helped the woman in the article deal with her grief, then maybe it could work for me.

So the next morning at 6am my alarm went off and I didn’t get out of bed. The following morning the same thing happened. On the 3rd morning the alarm went off and I dragged myself out of bed. I felt sick and my body felt heavy but I got dressed and walked out the door and started running. 

By the time I got to the end of my street I didn’t feel sick in my stomach and 30 minutes later I got home and I felt OK. Since that morning I never stopped running. I still run today, though not as often, as I have found a love for yoga and pilates.

Reading this woman’s story as to why she started running was the trigger for me to make a monumental decision to start dealing with the pain and adversity in my life. It also started me on my journey toward living a resilient life. 

The Curveballs Of Life 

The funny thing about life is that it doesn’t throw you one curveball - it will throw you many. Since my parents died there have been many curveballs thrown at me - including 3 redundancies in 18 months! I have felt defeated, humiliated, rejected and useless. However, I have survived.

The reason why I have survived is because I have learnt how to be resilient and how to manage adversity in my life. My life is not perfect, but I have the power of choice rather than being at the mercy of chance, possibility or habit.

7 Strategies That Help Me Live A Resilient Life 

These 7 Strategies have helped me survive the challenges and adversity in my life. The strategies have also empowered me to find the strength and courage to live a resilient life.

1. Always Look After Yourself - your health and wellbeing

Allocate some time during the week for you and stick to it! You need to re-energise, clear your mind and hopefully get some sleep. In stressful times we tend to give up on ourselves and our downward spiral begins. Our health and wellbeing is the key to build our strength both physically and mentally. Find out what it is that you can do, that will help you rebuild your physical and emotional strength. For me it was running, for you it could be yoga, meditation, weekly massage, pedicure - it doesn’t matter just find something that allows you for 10 minutes or more if you can, feel rested, calm, happy, energised or at peace. To survive and thrive in today’s world you need to be physically and emotionally strong.

2. Find Your Purpose In Life 

This strategy does take some work but it is so worth it. Having a purpose in life and knowing what makes you happy gives your clarity, focus and direction. Visualising what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear, keeps you hopeful and optimistic about your future. Resilience brings happiness to ones life. When you know who you are, what you want in life and what makes you happy then you have the key ingredients to live a resilient life.

3. Start and Never Stop Believing In Yourself 

The first step to start believing in you, is for you to find out what your strengths are - what are you good at? Knowing your strengths increases your self-awareness and builds your confidence. When you know what you are good at, your confidence and belief in you soars! 

4. Accept That Change Is Here To Stay And That Some Life Events Are Beyond Your Control

Just by you making a decision, you can achieve this strategy straight away. Once you have made the decision, you need to start looking for the tools and techniques to help you better manage your reactions to future life challenges you will, no doubt, face. I remember reading somewhere that people react to change in 1 of 2 ways. They react either as Champions and embrace change, adapt and are flexible or they react as Terrorists, aggressively, negatively, with fighting attitude, doing anything to keep control or disrupt the change process. I wanted to be more of a Champion, although I was aware at times I did demonstrate the behaviour of a Terrorist - which never served me well. Over time I came to realise that the more belief I had in me and in my abilities, the more I lived my life as a resilient champion of change.

5. Take One Step At A Time - just keep moving forward

When you are in pain and you want to hide away from the world DO IT and hide away BUT only on 1 condition that you commit to a timeframe of how long you are going to spend hiding away. This is how I coped with my pain of losing my parents and also dealing with each of my redundancies. You will know when you are feeling low emotionally, so take the time out. Over time the number of hours I spent isolated and in pain got less. Now I cant even remember the last time when I wanted to hide away from the world.

6. Value The Power Of Writing FEEL GOOD & DREAM Lists 

To keep your motivation and momentum to moving forward you also need to have a DREAM LIST. This is like your bucket list - write down all the things that you want to do in your life. Keep your DREAM List updated and close to you and commit to reviewing the list every month. Next to each activity put a date as to when you want to have the activity ticked off.

7. Help Others, Share and Celebrate Success 

Resilient people do not like to be isolated from others. They are good at building and maintaining their relationships. Resilient people are happy people and celebrate other people’s successes as well as their own. To survive and thrive in life you need to share and develop supportive and caring relationships with your friends, family and colleagues. Accept help and support from others.

Living a Resilient life is not a one-way ticket and it is not all about you. It is about how you can help and support other people in your life. By helping others and having positive relationships in our lives we begin to accept and believe in ourselves. We must be OK if other people think we are OK.

To live a resilient life is a tough journey because to be resilient you have to experience personal setbacks, pain and adversity. This is scary and for many of us we choose not to embrace resilience and our life languishes. For those of us who embrace and integrate resilience into our lives - our life flourishes. Despite the pain and challenge of the resilience journey - the gains that you receive from leading a resilient life is priceless.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference” - Reinhold Niebuhur. 

About Kathryn Sandford

I am Kathryn Sandford - an aspiring writer, coach, presenter, teacher, loving wife, and super-mum (I like to think so) to two young-adult children.

In Nov 2013 when I was made redundant for the 3rd time in 18 months I decided I had enough and so in 2014 I embarked upon what I like to call my 2014 Journey of Reinvention. I put a plan in place to follow the dream of being a writer, speaker and coach, and started on my way to making those dreams come true.

Through my writing, coaching and speaking I share with other people the things that I’ve learnt along the way. I want to help people to follow their dreams, find their life purpose, or find the courage, strength, and willpower to survive through the rough times that life just throws at them (not that I’m ambitious at all!).

I am so excited to be on this journey and if I can help one person take a leap of faith and go follow their dream then I am truly happy! You can find me on kathrynsandford.com.