April 2021



    Tough times can be catalysts for powerful personal change.   Learn to turn challenges into opportunities and become stronger, happier and inspired to thrive in 2021. 

    Like a plant growing through rock, you can find a way to push through whatever obstacles you’re facing and emerge into the sunlight.  The power to do this comes from tapping into a unique trait called transformative resilience.  Traditional resilience is about having grit and perseverance and powering through, but the transformative type goes a step further.  It’s the ability to take life’s challenges and setbacks and learn from them and use them as inspirations to grow in new directions.  The good news is that anyone can foster Type R qualities.  Here’s your plan to get started.

    Take a New View.  To learn to see challenges as opportunities, you need to shift your mindset.  We all have a lens through which we view the world and everything that takes place in it.  It shapes our outlook, beliefs, attitude and actions.  Oftentimes, it may be more negative than we realize.  To figure out what your mindset is, think back to a recent difficulty and how you reacted to it.  Say you had to cancel a long-awaited vacation.  Did you get stuck in the disappointment and have trouble shaking it off?  Did you spiral deeper and tell yourself that the way things are going, you probably won’t be able to travel for a while?   Those thoughts will drag you down, leaving you feeling sad and defeated.  Once you understand how you typically react to tough situations, you’ll be able to recognize the pattern, stop yourself, and actively switch to a more positive way of dealing with problems.  Instead of wondering, Why me? think, how can I do things differently that will help me grow?  That way, it goes from an act of bad luck foisted upon you to something you can mold to your advantage.  In the case of the missed vacation, you could schedule a series of weekend outings closer to home throughout the winter and spring.  Go hiking in a national park you’ve always wanted to visit.  Rediscover ice skating or sign up for snow boarding lessons at a winter resort.  That way, you’ll consistently have something to look forward to.  While you’re at it, perhaps you’ll learn a new skill.

    Practice Emotional Hygiene.  Being adaptable and finding creative solutions doesn’t mean denying your sad feelings or brushing off negative emotions.   People are handling some really difficult challenges right now, and we need to acknowledge our experiences in order to deal with them.  When something bad happens, let yourself feel frustrated or upset.  Turn to your family and friends for emotional support and advice.  But don’t let the negative thoughts overwhelm you and take over.  Move beyond them and try not to ruminate.  Of course, certain things like COVID and the state of the economy are beyond our control.  Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that.  It’s crucial to see the larger context, especially in this time of great uncertainty and during this crisis.  We can’t expect individuals to do it all; social safety nets need to be in place.  What we can do is take action and advocate for those things.  Focus on what is in your power to change.  So, if the current financial situation means you can’t open a vegan bakery you’ve been dreaming of, make it your side hustle until the time is right.  Launch a website and sell your baked good at night and on weekends.  You’ll build up your client base and make money.

    Move Forward.  What we often hear when it comes to resilience is the idea of bouncing back.   But the reality is, we usually don’t bounce back because the world keeps moving, and it’s very hard to get back to where we were.  Plus, once we go through something difficult, we change and grow; we don’t stay the same.  The challenges of this past year highlight how crucial it is to move ahead.  Looking at the pandemic and what we’ve been through as individuals, as communities and as a nation, it has changed us in fundamental ways.  We’ve had to adapt to working from home, losing a job, or the loss of a loved one.  We’ve realized the need to overhaul our communities, our healthcare system, and the way we engage with one another.  In the face of these changes, we must do things differently.  On a personal level, that means brainstorming some new ideas for tackling your challenges.  Take working from home, which can start to consume your life if you let it.  Instead of sitting at your desk for hours on end, schedule a midmorning break into your days.  Do a workout, meditate or grab a cup of coffee and call a friend.  In the afternoon, go for a 20-minute walk.  At night, shut off your laptop and enjoy dinner with your family.  By creating dedicated pockets of downtime, you’ll be more productive, creative and successful.  And you’ll feel more positive, not only about your job but about the future. 

    Pam O’Brien