Friday, October 15, 2010


Have you ever wondered why some people just seem to get over "stuff" and get on with life more easily than others? Is that due to personality differences? Is it inborn or due to the parenting that they received? (Ah, yes, that old conundrum of nature vs nurture.) Or, maybe, God just likes them better?

In my line of work we call that resilience. Webster's defines resilience as "an ability to recover from or adjust easily to change or misfortune." Resilience does seem to make a great difference in how people handle life and all that it can dish out.

So, what is resilience exactly? Who knows. There are no clear answers from the brain researchers, or the personality researchers, or the religious/spiritual researchers. However, here's what we do know about resilience: some piece of it is inborn. Yes, it seems we either have some, or we don't have some. (Note the word some. Is the remaining balance acquired? Maybe.) However, that isn't the end of the story. We also know that some people survive their childhoods, and move on to bigger and better things, because of one very important factor: the presence of one person who believed in them. Is that all it takes to thrive? No, but it helps A LOT.

The presence, the influence, the saving grace, of one person who believed in us can change our life. It doesn't have to be a person who was full-time in our lives (like a parent or other relative). It can be someone who was transitory, for example, a counselor for two weeks of summer camp, a classroom teacher, the local librarian, a soccer coach. In fact, it could be as transitory as someone we knew for a moment, literally, a moment in our lives, e.g., when we spoke to the inspirational lecturer at a Sunday School assembly, or the woman at the bookstore who took a minute and really listened to us.

When you look back on your childhood or adolescence, who reached out to you? Who believed in you, even if just for a moment? Who might you thank for the way you turned out? And can you do that for someone else, a child or a teenager who might need just one person to believe in him/her and their resilience will be encouraged to flourish?

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