“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” – Audrey Hepburn
Though Audrey Hepburn was considered the most naturally beautiful woman of all time, and was a renowned actress, she devoted her later life to UNICEF and helping disadvantaged children. She grew up in Europe during World War II. Her dad was a Nazi sympathizer. Her mother caught him in bed with the nanny then he abandoned the family. During the Nazi occupation, her uncle was executed. Young Audrey suffered from malnutrition and developed anemia, along with edema and respiratory problems. How did a woman with such a devastating childhood grow up to become the iconic symbol of beauty, wisdom and grace?
Resilience is one of the most important building blocks for success and happiness in life. It is the ability to bounce back, to adapt to tough circumstances. It’s a learned skill. We develop it over time through falling down and getting back up. An emotional muscle that gets stronger with each challenge. Resilience is the ability to believe in yourself even when things go wrong, and the power and patience to find the solutions to make things go right.
It may surprise you to know that one of the funniest men alive (and the man I would most want to be stranded on a desert island with, excluding my husband of course :)) experienced tragedy in his childhood. Stephen Colbert’s father and two brothers died in a plane crash when he was ten. When his mom moved the family, Stephen had a hard time making friends in his new neighborhood. He went through a period of distraction and was unable to relate to other kids. He spent a lot of time in fantasy and role-playing, the results of which we see now in his genius comedy. As a young man, Colbert wanted to study marine biology but a botched surgery left him permanently deaf in his right ear. He had enough inner ear damage to destroy his hopes for a career that required scuba diving. When he decided to try his hand at acting, Colbert discovered his true love.
And who hasn’t heard Oprah Winfrey’s powerful story! She ran away from home as a young girl, after years of being molested by several family members. She lost a baby when she was only fourteen years old. But tragedy gave her a fierce determination to triumph. She became an honors student in high school, won an oratory contest, received a full scholarship to college and the rest is history.
All this to say, it doesn’t matter so much what life hands us. What matters is what we do with it.
5 Tips on Building Resilience
- Take positive action. Resilient people have as many negative thoughts and grief as others do, but they work through them with positive actions and nurturing self-care.
- Connect with others. Resilience grows through close ties with family and friends. Sometimes it takes a village.
- Ask for help. Admit when you are feeling overwhelmed. Seek out the resources you need.
- “Banish self doubt” as Frozen director Jennifer Lee put it. We all suffer pangs of being less than we really are, especially when times are tough. Practice seeing yourself as resilient and capable of handling whatever comes. Tell yourself you will figure it out and you very likely will.
- Have patience with your circumstances. Change is the only certainty in life. Each of us has the power to turn our challenges into triumphs.