Gratitude and Resilience

With the season of giving and celebration upon us, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, the to-do lists, the letters to Santa Claus, and the family obligations. We just celebrated Thanksgiving, some of us with our families, some of us with our friends, and some of us with a microwave dinner. I hope that no matter how each one of us celebrated, that we at least took a few seconds to look around and find something to be grateful for. And if we didn’t, that we can take the time to pause and do that right now.

Last Thanksgiving,when I shared a post on Gratitude from, I was in the midst of moving into a new home and feeling overwhelmed and worried about leaving my familiar location. Today, one year later, I’m all settled in, enjoying my garden, my new kitchen island, and a heater that works, all in an adorable, safe neighborhood. I couldn’t possibly have known how wonderfully it all would work out. For that, I’m truly grateful.

That being said, there are always obstacles to gratitude. There will always be reasons to focus on the negative instead of the positive. Whether our plates are filled with family troubles, sick relatives, broken down cars, budget constraints, or crowded grocery stores, we always have an opportunity to look down instead of up. And too, we always have an opportunity to look up instead of down.

What we’re able to control in our lives varies, but we can learn to better equip ourselves to handle whatever adversity comes our way through learning and building resilience. So what creates resilience in people? Here’s a great list from the PBS site “This Emotional Life”

  • Close relationships with family and friends
  • A positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities
  • The ability to manage strong feelings and impulses
  • Good problem-solving and communication skills
  • Feeling in control
  • Seeking help and resources
  • Seeing yourself as resilient (rather than as a victim)
  • Coping with stress in healthy ways and avoiding harmful coping strategies, such as substance abuse
  • Helping others
  • Finding positive meaning in your life despite difficult or traumatic events

Research shows that the more resilient a person is, the greater life satisfaction a person has (source – the video on this post addresses resilience really well in life and in the workplace).  Our outlook on life is about the choices we make — the way we handle obstacles. Do we see them as road blocks or simply bumps along the way? Do we see them as being forced upon us or as opportunities for learning and growth; for experimentation with a new way to handle a challenge? Do we resist change and feel victimized, or do we look for ways to adapt? Building resilience is similar to building self-efficacy, believing that we are in the driver’s seat of our own lives, and finding resources to help when we are unequipped to handle something alone. It’s not about not needing help. It’s about acknowledging when we do need help and taking action to get it.

As we embark on what some people consider the most hectic time of year, I challenge you to consider resilience. Decide to make the bullet points above priorities for yourself. Or just pick one to start with and go from there.*

*If you’re an AHS employee or patient and interested in tackling the stresses of the holiday season, please attend one of our Holiday Stress-Hardy Workshops, happening at all 3 clinics, Highland and John George hospitals throughout the month of December. Message me for details if you’re interested.

Happy Holidays, and here’s to resilience!

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