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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

Why Resilient People Are Happier—and How to Be More Like Them

One day I walked into my house to find our cat playing gleefully with a baby lizard. He would pick up the lizard in his mouth, give it a little playful toss, and then paw at it.

Cute? Not really.

I picked up the lizard gently, his cold lifeless body sagging in my hand, and put him on the outside wall. I figured he was a goner. About an hour later, I checked on the little guy expecting to see his dead remains, and to my amazement, he was gone.

What that little lizard showed to me that day was great resilience. He got caught in a tough place that forced him to take action—in this case he played dead. He remained in his I’m dead role until all fear was removed, and then he bounced right back and carried on with his lizard life.

There are people in life who show exceptional resilience, too. They have the strength and the passion to go on even in the face of tragedy. Below are eight habits of extremely resilient people.

Start with one and continue to add on as you go, but at least begin down the path of increasing your resilience. Resilient people lead happier and more successful lives—and perhaps longer, in the case of the lizard. Don’t you want that, too?

1. Get the Support You Need

People with exceptional resilience typically have a big safety net—many loved ones and friends to turn to when times get tough. Having others who accept you for who you are and who are there for you during good and bad times strengthens your resilience. Don’t have much family or many friends? Get out there and join a group, club, or team—start connecting and making friends.

2. Realize It’s Just Part of Life

Resilience comes with knowing that life isn’t perfect and that, yes, there will be drama and trauma in your life at one time or another. Your ability to view a tragedy as an isolated event instead of what your future has in store for you is what will set you up for success and greater resilience in the future.

3. Make Healthy Choices

People who are extremely resilient typically take care of themselves. They exercise daily, get the rest they need, address their own needs and feelings regularly, and make an effort to eat healthy. If you take care of yourself—even walking 20 minutes a day can take your stress down a notch—you will be less likely to fall apart during those times in your life that are filled with stress or tragedy.

4. Remember to Laugh

Even during the worst times, exceptionally resilient people still laugh and find joy. Laughter can reduce the pain you feel, both body and mind, and help to minimize the issue at hand. Yes, the bad things will still happen, but you can lighten that load by finding your sense of humor.

5. Be Nice to Others

Exceptionally resilient people enjoy helping others. They find great joy in random acts of kindness that lift the heart of not only the receiver but also the giver. On the flip side, it is equally important to receive and appreciate kindness from others who are trying to help you during a tough time—showing gratitude is also a big part of resiliency.

6. Get the Ball Rolling

Resilient people face life’s obstacles head-on. When confronted by a crisis, they immediately ask themselves, “What are my choices and solutions for this?” They collect all the information they can, come up with a plan, and then face the pain or anxiety directly with action. Even when faced with the worst of tragedies, such as a death in the family, resilient people collect, plan, and act until things are back to normal.

7. Look at the Bright Side

Resilient people have a knack for always finding the silver lining. Even though they are not immune to pain and anxiety, their eyes are wide open—they are able to see the good even during the worst times. Resilient people literally see each moment in life as another opportunity and another chance. Their glass is definitely half full.

8. Don’t Make the Same Mistake Again

Resilient people learn from their mistakes instead of making the same ones over and over. They ask themselves what went wrong and come up with a strategy to prevent the mistake from happening again. They get excited about doing things in a new way or approaching things differently, and this is what helps them endure unhappy times.

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Photo of tall trees courtesy of Shutterstock.