It doesn’t take much more than a slight change of circumstances in your life—or a major crisis—before voices from far and near begin telling you what they think you should do. Usually in an effort to be helpful, people you know (or random strangers on the street) are all-too-eager to dish out guidance, instructions and recommendations.
Maybe it’s something big like changing jobs or sending your kid to college, or something smaller like redecorating your kitchen. As soon as word gets out that something is changing in your life, the advice starts flowing.
In many instances, the advice includes what others define as "success" and include the things that make them happy. It also includes what they think is possible, achievable and can include their own fears and limitations.
However, too much advice ringing in your ear can become noisy and confusing. Of course, you want to take the good advice and leave the rest behind. But how can you know the difference?
Have you ever met one of those people whose life seems to be absolutely ideal? Someone who never seems to encounter difficulty or struggle in any way? (You know, the folks whose lives are so great that you secretly want to hate them!)
However much it may seem like nothing goes wrong for these people-with-perfect-lives, that’s simply not true. No one has a perfect life. These seemingly perfect-people-you-want-to-hate encounter struggle and difficulty the same as everyone else. They get flat tires. They get cavities. Their pet ferrets run away.
So what’s the difference between these seemingly perfect people and “normal” people?
The difference is the way they handle life’s challenges.
The difference is resilience.
Resilience is all about being flexible or malleable. Being able to recover when things don’t go as expected. Resilience is a quality that allows a person to experience difficulties and then get up, dust off, and move forward.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks on 9-11, gratitude was one of the most frequently expressed emotions in America. Why was that? Because times of crisis often call out of people their better angels, their higher selves. The Roman philosopher Cicero called gratitude the queen of all virtues. That seems an apt description: Virtue met vice in the wake of those horrific attacks.
But did you know that gratitude can make you happier? There’s been lots of research into the benefits of adopting an “attitude of gratitude” over the past two decades. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of the book “The How of Happiness” lists eight of them in this blog post. Even her first three are compelling: grateful thinking helps you savor life; it bolsters self-esteem and self worth; and it helps you cope with stress and trauma.
A psychology professor who has been at the forefront of gratitude research, Robert Emmons, says the evidence is mounting of the psychological,...
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