I’d like to share with you three lessons to building resilience. The three lessons I learned about joy and light come from people I’ve worked with who have spent time in sorrow and darkness. My hope is that if you are in darkness that one of these lessons may help you to make your way through it. I’ve taken pieces from Bréne Brown’s Daring Greatly as it fits perfectly.
1. Joy comes to us in moments—ordinary moments.
We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary. Scarcity culture may keep us afraid of living small, ordinary lives but when you talk to people who have survived great losses it is clear that the most profound joy we experience is in those small moments that are so easy to overlook.
*Try checking in with yourself at different times during the day and identify one small moment that put a smile on your face or made your heart a little lighter.
2. Practice gratitude for what we have.
When Bréne asked people who had survived tragedy how others can cultivate and show more compassion for people who are suffering, the answer was always the same: Don’t shrink away from the joy of your child because I’ve lost mine. Don’t take what you have for granted—celebrate it. Don’t apologize for your healthy parents or your great relationship. Be grateful and share your gratitude with others.
One quote that she heard over and over was simply: “When you honor what you have, you’re honoring what I’ve lost.”
*Practice gratefulness by telling the people you love how grateful you are to have them in your life. Choose a random act of kindness daily for one week (or longer!).
3. Don’t squander joy.
The harsh reality is that we can’t prepare for tragedy and loss. When we turn every opportunity to feel joy into “I better not let my guard down and feel too happy – that’s inviting disaster” we actually diminish our resilience.
Leaning into joy is uncomfortable, scary, and very vulnerable. But every time we allow ourselves to lean into and open ourselves up to receiving joy, we build resilience and we cultivate hope. The joy becomes part of who we are, and when bad things happen—and they do happen—we are stronger.
*Remember that traumatizing yourself with too much news or letting your imagination run wild doesn’t create empathy – it generates fear and blame. Create a mantra “I open my heart to joy” or something that reminds you that if you want more joy to keep your heart open.