This is our final post in our series on Choosing Happiness. If you haven’t had an opportunity to read the last few posts, please do! They can, in fact, help you to choose happiness.

We began with an overview of the research, taught you to Notice Your Life, explored two core practices, Gratitude and Forgiveness, spent some time helping you get to Know What You Want and last week we talked about the power of Kindness and Service.

This week we want to talk about developing the resilience to bounce back as life unfolds with all of its gifts and challenges.

For years, psychologists, behavioral scientists, and neurobiologists studied the things that go wrong in life but in recent years there has been a shift to studying what goes right.

The research is clear—there are things you can do, day-to-day, to more consistently bounce back in the face of challenges which will increase your ability to choose happiness.

Shift how you talk to yourself.

There is considerable research that shows that in the face of significant hardship and trauma, what you say to yourself about your experience can dramatically change how quickly and effectively you bounce back.

It involves the combination of recognizing and naming the pain and trauma while at the same time, looking ahead with a sense of possibility.

Name the pain or fear:

  • Many people believe that the best way to deal with challenges, stressors and trauma is to try to ignore or bury it. Yet the research demonstrates that when we name it, our body can start to relax.
  • Naming it also lets you honor the reality of your experience.
  • Prisoners of war who were able to name and know the horror of their current experience while also planning for a rich and satisfying future had more success when they returned home than those who didn’t.

Reflect on what you can do to create a positive future:

  • Consider an action you can take that’s in alignment with your goals.
  • Reflect on what gives you a sense of meaning and purpose and explore what you’ll do when you’ve come out the other side of the challenge.
  • Explore the “gifts” or “lessons” you will claim from going through this challenge.

Give yourself some distance from the pain:

  • Instead of saying “I am a mess” try saying “You are struggling right now because you are so hurt and angry.”  The shift from I to you changes you from being the victim into a coach, on your own behalf.
  • Think about what someone you respect would say to you about your pain and the possibility for the future.
  • Consider how you are when you’re at your best and wisest, and ask that “you” how you should move forward.

Take care of your body.

Challenging and painful experiences are very taxing to the brain and the body. To help you bounce back, you need to be especially thoughtful about how you care for yourself.

Get as much sleep as you can:

  • Make time for it – it’s as important (and often more important) than anything else you can do during this time.
  • Darken your room or buy an eye mask so your brain isn’t confused by the light in your room. Even small lights can disrupt your sleep.

Move your body regularly:

  • Moving your body 30 minutes a day can help you focus, manage anxiety, interrupt depression, and stay calm in stressful situations.
  • It’s not magic – you can’t just move one day and everything is better the next – it’s an investment that creates change over time.
  • Moving can be a walk, working in the garden or riding a bike – it doesn’t have to be a hard workout to support you in bouncing back.

Practice Mindfulness:

  • We talked about mindfulness in the second week of the series, Notice Your Life, and we want to remind you that in even just a few minutes a day you can become more resilient in the face of difficult times.

There’s a lot of pain and struggle in a lifetime. No one is immune. And, for some, pain and struggle is a daily challenge.

But, it’s good to know that there are things you can do to increase the likelihood that you will bounce back.  And, all of these things will support you in Choosing Happiness.

Please let us know your stories of bouncing back and what you did to support yourself in that effort.

We are holding you with love,

Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting