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Resilience and its relationship to contentment in life and at work

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Resilience and its relationship to contentment in life and at work

Some of us may relate to strengthening our psychological immunity against stressful events and responses by nurturing our physical self. We invest a lot on spa days and other wellness related treats. In 2017, this amounted to more than (euro symbol)25 million. Yoga, massage and meditation – are also just a few more of the readily available remedies for relief of stress-related physical and mental symptoms.

What is resilience?

Whatever our symptoms, our understanding of what it is to be resilient may be more about our capacity to form an attitude that copes with adverse events without experiencing stress, and the belief that not all stress is bad for us (McGonigal 2013). Resilience, therefore, is the capacity to choose the attitude that copes with adverse events whilst minimising reactions to stress. Personally, it works for me, most days.

We know that our attitude influences the level of impact that stress will have on our health. It follows that it is not only important to build resilience but to consider changing underlying and limiting beliefs that all stress is bad for you. Here I’m referring to the ‘cuddle hormone’, oxytocin, not all stress is bad for you unless you think it is, and just in case you need it, this hormone will help you out when you most need to connect with others. I was delighted when I first heard this message from Kelly McGonigal. Pure genius. Now I have a perfectly valid and scientific reason to justify the levels of stress I enjoy. However, there is more to it than that.

It is important to consider the social context or our personal support network, as we cannot possibly do all of this on our own. You do need to want to be part of something, whatever that is: a professional association, or aligning with like-minded colleagues or time spent with family and friends. Our personal challenge is that we all have a need for a social context on our terms. In times of stress, my reflexive preference is to talk things over. This alignment is key to the strength of the relationships upon which we may all thrive. It’s so important, that it is one of the three core elements in the approach to resilience identified by MIND: 1. wellbeing, 2. social connections and 3. having ways to cope with difficult events. At work

Typical difficult work related events may include ongoing challenging conversations with colleagues or a line manager. Or the harsh reality of change, redundancies and a major transformation. Experience may not count for much when you find yourself at the brunt of someone else’s campaign whatever their purpose, or so it may seem. Covey has a great way of portraying a ‘paradigm shift’ as does Anais Anin with the following quote:

“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are”.

It is really helpful to have friends and colleagues who will call out what they notice about your behaviour. In that moment, you are receiving precious feedback. Hopefully at a time when you are ready to listen. I am much better at listening now than I have ever been.

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