Resiliency and The 7 Potent Powers of Bouncing Back

Introduction to Resiliency

Resiliency is the power to bounce back from difficult or daunting circumstances and successfully adapt to them. 

It doesn’t mean you are invulnerable to the capacious whims of life, but that you are embued with an ability to face adversity and find ways to overcome it.

But to do this requires a special kind of mindset.

The question is, is this mindset genetic or learned.

Leading research seems to indicate that anyone can focus on and build the mindset necessary for resiliency.

A practice of gratitude is one way of training your mindset to be more positive about life and our everyday challenges. 

Those same researchers have identified 7 potent powers that make up our resiliency.

Below I cover each power that can help you build a mindset that is able to bounce back from adversity and move forward with your goals and dream. 



1. Potent Power: Optimism

Optimism is defined as: an attitude reflecting a belief or hope that the outcome of some specific endeavor, or outcomes in general, will be positive, favorable, and desirable.  The term derives from the Latin optimum, meaning “best”.

Source: Wikipedia

Optimists see the glass as half-full and pessimists see the glass as half empty. We’ve all heard this example to explain the difference. It may seem like we’re splitting hairs or play a semantic game. 

However, it is not about how full the glass is but the different future expectations of that glass of water. An optimist believes the glass will get fuller, the pessimist believes the glass we become emptier over time.

So when an optimist faces a crisis their instinct is to see that things will get better. 

Studies show this reduces stress and anxiety and compels the optimist to look for solutions and to see only temporary setbacks.

This power leads an optimist to be more proactive about their health, their finances, and their relationships. Whereas a pessimist quite often doesn’t see the point of eating healthy or financial planning. 

After all, things are just going to get worse…shrug.

How to Develop an Optimistic Mindset.

  1. Become more mindful. As you learn to live more fully in the moment it is easier to spot the good things that are happening around you.
  2. Practice gratitude. Being grateful and thankful boosts your appreciation for all the gifts, great or small that flow into your life every day.
  3. With that growing awareness, it gets easier to catch your negative thoughts and emotions and reshape them into positive ones. This is best done if you write them down. Write out the negative thought or emotion then next to it write out your positive restatement. 

Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

2. Hardiness

 The Psychological Research and Reference site defines hardiness this way: Hardiness is a personality trait that is associated with a person’s ability to manage and respond to stressful life events with coping strategies that turn potentially unfortunate circumstances into learning opportunities.  

Hardiness implies an ability to shoulder the hardships and challenges we all face sometimes in our lives. 

It means having grit, perseverance, and tenacity to manufacture success from adversity. 

You could look at it as the character trait that puts iron into optimism.

You often see hardiness in people who are committed to a dream or driven to reach a goal in spite of any obstacle. 

Someone with the personality trait of hardiness is less likely to burn out under the stress of demanding situations. 

Ways to Develop Your Hardiness Trait

  1.  Have a clearly defined purpose. Without understanding the “Why” it is harder not to give in to the stress that comes from facing those daily almost insurmountable challenges. 
  2. Commit to stepping out of your comfort zone at least once a day. Our comfort zone saps our hardiness and leads to a diminished capacity to handle stress.
  3. Embrace change by use of daily intentions or affirmations that push you to do and think differently. Keep a change list where you keep all your ideas about things you want to change and improve in your life.   

3. Sense of Humor

Humor is one of the best pills to take for stress release. Nothing beats tension better than a laugh. Being able to see the humor in the moment certainly makes you more resilient.

The most notable example of the power to a Sense of Humor is the story of Norman Cousins author of Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient – Reflections on Healing and Regeneration

He used humor to help him deal with a diagnosis of connective tissue disease with a 1 in 500 chance of recovery. To combat the disease he used a self-prescribed remedy of heavy dosages of vitamin C and time watching as much humor as possible. A good bout of humor brought two hours of pain-free relief. 

Help develop the field of laugher therapy. 

How to Develop Your Sense of Humor

I am a terrible teller of jokes. My humor relies on what arises out of a given situation; like a situational comedy.  I also enjoy some slapstick humor. The Peter Sellers “Pink Panther” movies are my all-time favorites. 

Nevertheless, we all approach humor differently.

There are however things you can do to sharpen your sense of humor.

  1. Submerse yourself in humor. Watch comedies, whatever appeals to you. Read funny books, listen to a funny podcast. Seek out and enjoy as many avenues of humor you can find. You will find that the humor begins to rub off on you. Plus, it’s great therapy.
  2. Pay attention and get to know what things you find funny. Get to know yourself and what humor makes you laugh. Then use that self-awareness to help enhance the way you use humor to relieve a tense moment or handle a difficult situation.
  3. Learn to laugh at yourself. We can take our monkey mind thoughts far too seriously. Laugh at the more outlandish thoughts that pop into your mind. To laugh at your ego is to reduce it.

"I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep,"

4. Social Support

The support of family and friends is critical to your ability to be resilient during challenging times.

Current research suggests that this interconnectivity is one of the most important factors in your resiliency.

When my partner died suddenly of a heart attack My friends rushed to support me. Our niece who was traveling to Lillooet BC at the time, turn her car around to be with me.  

My son arrived as soon as he could, and my sister flew out to drive back to Ontario in the aftermath.

I can still clearly remember the strength they gave me to keep going on.

I’m sure you can think of a similar experience.

Our logical families help us deal with stress, disappointment, failed marriages, and other disasters that are all part of life. 

How to Strengthen Your Social Network

  1.  Stay in touch with your social network whether family, extended family, and friends. This past year we’ve learned the importance of staying connected even if it’s on a zoom call or WhatsApp. For instance, my friend Mark in Victoria sends me a message on messenger every once in a while to make sure I’m okay. Very simple. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
  2. Listen more than you speak. Being a good listener will attract people to your social network. Active listening shows people that you care about them, that you hear and respond to what they are saying. Don’t hog the conversation.  
  3. Be grateful for the social network you have. Stay away from comparisons to your friends. Happily share in their success and be compassionate during their difficult times. 

“How resilient we are may have as much to do with our social milieu and circle of support as it does with our personal strengths”

5. Resiliency: Sense of purpose and meaning

Why is a sense of purpose and meaning important to our resiliency in life?

Purpose and meaning help us feel and be healthier physically and mentally. When we possess that good health we have a greater ability to bounce back from difficulties than people who live without a clear idea of their purpose and meaning in life.

If you will, your purpose gives you an anchor. When times get tough you are hardwired to get back up and continue to work toward that purpose. If on the other hand, you have no clear direction when you get caught up in difficult times, you don’t have anything to hold you in place. 

I know when I talk to clients about purpose I get immediate push back, 

“Nick you are trying to sell me a course.”  Or, “Nobody really understands their purpose.” Or “I’ve tried to figure out my purpose but it’s beyond me.

Honestly, it’s not that hard. Purpose is about finding and doing the things you love. That simple. 

Simple Tips on How to Find Your Purpose in Life

  1. Create a list of the things you love to do and highlight the ones that resonate the most with you.
  2.  Look around you for people who are positive, happy, and enjoying life, and ask them about the reasons they feel that way. Quite often, without directly asking, their purpose will come shinning through.
  3. Think about the causes that interest you. Are there charities or non-profits doing work that you are passionate about? What cause would you love to be part of?

6 Potent Power: Spirituality

We express our spiritual beliefs in many ways but the key to spiritual life is the idea that we are guided by a higher power or a greater intelligence within us. 

Our recognition that the power lives within us and not outside us gives us something to hold onto when things don’t go our way.

We recognize we can appeal to that power through prayer or meditations and this fortifies our resiliency.

Many studies have shown that religion and spirituality are key factors in dealing with stress and trauma and our ability to recover from it. 

A nationwide survey of stress reactions in the U.S. after September 11th found that turning to religion (prayer, religion, or spiritual feelings) was the second most common way of coping (90%), after talking
with others (98%) See Spiritual Resilience.

How to Increase Resiliency through Spiritual Practice.

  1.  Daily positive affirmations that focus our minds on creating better experiences throughout the day. See How to Create Positive Powerful I AM Affirmations
  2. Practice mindfulness, a way of noticing your environment and paying attention to it as much as possible. Living more fully in the “Now.” Learn more about mindfulness exercises here.
  3.  Finding time for solitude and nature. Taking a walk through a park or hiking a trail through a forest of an early morning walk along a beach: all of these activities help us find that inner connection to spirit. Try to do this every week.
There are many more ways to develop a spiritual practice but it’s important not to overthink it. Simple daily acts of kindness to others is a great place to start.

Spiritual practice is not just sitting and meditation. Practice is looking, thinking, touching, drinking, eating, and talking. Every act, every breath, and every step can be practice and can help us to become more ourselves.

7. Gratitude and Resiliency

In his book Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier Robert Emmons talks about grateful people having a different linguistic style. That grateful people “traffic in the discourse of thankfulness.”

The proven health benefits of gratitude make for a length list 

In fact, if you read back over the 7 qualities of Resiliency you will find that gratitude is part of each one of them. 

How we look at the world makes a huge difference to the quality of our lives. 

Even in tragedy and trauma, grateful people look for the lesson or the learning in the experience that will help them grow and become better human beings in the future. 

This is resilience in the strongest sense. That we will and can come back from this and that we will find within this experience the seeds to carry us forward once more. 

How to Deeper Your Gratitude Practice

  1. Each day write down what you are grateful for. Putting things in writing make them real. And you then have a way to gauge your growth as you learn to speak the language of gratitude.
  2. Express your gratitude to others. Show and demonstrate how and why you are grateful.
  3. Pay-it-forward. Give what you receive in kindness, in mentoring, in companionship, and pass them on to someone else. Nothing inspires more gratitude than giving.

Adults who keep gratitude journals on a regular basis exercise more regularly, report fewer illnesses symptoms, feel better about their lives as a whole, and are more optimistic about the future.


Resiliency isn’t just something you are born with. In this article, we’ve discussed the 7 Potent Powers that help us bounce back from our life experiences.

  1. The Power of Optimism
  2. Hardiness
  3. A Sense of Humor
  4. Social Support
  5. Sense of Purpose and Meaning
  6. Spirituality
  7. Gratefulness

The best way to increase your own resiliency is to take one of these powers and work to strengthen that power in your life.

Once you’ve read the article I would like to answer two questions.

What Power Is Your Strongest Power?

What is Your Weakest Power?

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