How do I cultivate deep strength and resiliency?
We might describe resiliency as…
- The capacity to continue despite life’s setbacks
- The ability to become stronger due to stress (anti-fragility)
- The strength to handle anything
They sound great, grand and completely unattainable!
I’m going to guide you through how I break it down into something that I can action in my daily living.
Start by flipping it on it’s head, what are the characteristics of the not-resilient? Think of the biggest head case you know…
When I think about anger and anxiety, they strike me as cultural expressions of fear. At some level, we see angry men and anxious women as normal. I feel both emotions all the time and they make me less effective.
What to do?
Over the last two years, I’ve been experimenting with micro-courage.
I started by printing up 50 life lessons and highlighting the ones that I wanted to focus on (11, 12, 18, 26, 27, 28, 37, 42, 49). If you come by my office, you’ll see they are taped near my printer…
Reflecting on the lessons, I paid particular attention to three:
- Let your children see you cry
- Forgive everyone everything
I’d encourage you to find your own (triggers).
The game is to focus your actions on situations at the edge of what you can handle.
Here’s an example:
- There are lots of homeless folks on the Boulder Creek Bike Path. Some of these folks are violent, others are mentally ill, still others are addicts. As a group, they scare the crap out of me.
- While I have pals that work with the homeless, I don’t have any clue how to “fix” this problem and often wish the problem would go away (so I don’t have to deal with my inability to deal with it!).
- Anyhow, there’s one guy that sits by the creek in the 28th St underpass and says good morning to everyone that runs, rides and walks past him. He’s a drinker and can get a little sloppy towards the end of the day.
- I can’t fix the city’s homeless challenges but I can offer the guy a bit of human connection as I ride by. I look at him, smile and take a breath in. On the face of it, I’m smiling at him but, in reality, I’m staying open to the fear within myself. That’s micro-courage.
The story repeats itself in every part of my life that I want to close off.
I try to “stay open” as many times a day as I can.
The problem can be homelessness, litter, aggression, poor driving, manners, food quality… keep it small, remember to breathe in through your nose with a tiny smile.
Staying open to a small fear, a slight inconvenience, a little bit of sadness… I call it micro-courage.
The habit has been transformative in situations that I used to find overwhelming.
This is what I meant when I wrote that strength comes from staying open to little fears.
Courage is a powerful antidote to fear, anxiety and anger.