12 Ways to Build Resilience

12 Ways to Build Resilience

I’m not the most resilient person. I would go as far as to say I was quite lacking in resilience growing up. On the outside, it looked like I rolled with the punches and didn’t let anything bother me. But on the inside… Boy, was I a mess! I would often internalize every little thing, obsess over it to see where I went wrong. It never occurred to me that I could build resilience. That my inside could reflect my outward appearance. Honestly, I never really thought about it. And to be completely honest, I probably didn’t even know what resilience was.

So when I saw Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness, I was intrigued, to say the least. Could this be the answer to my low self-esteem? Is it possible for someone who is so easily hurt to build up defenses against all my insecurities? Will I finally be as strong on the inside as I appear on the outside?

Dr. Rick Hanson is a psychologist with extensive work on the need for building mental resources. Resilient is his latest book of that theme.

From the cover:

“These days it’s hard to count on the world outside. So it’s vital to grow strengths such as grit, gratitude, and compassion—the keys to resilience and to lasting well-being in a changing world.

True resilience is much more than enduring terrible conditions. We need resilience every day to raise a family, work at a job, cope with stress, deal with health problems, navigate issues with others, heal from old pain, and simply keep going.”

Budget in Action!

After reading You Need a Budget, I decided to put a budget in action! I was planning a trip to Korea and Japan summer of 2019; some friends and I studied abroad in the summer of 2009, and thought it would be cool to go back ten years later!

Of the four of us planning to go, one friend is a freelancer, and I’m an unemployed grad student. Money is going to be a problem for us. I thought, why not use what I just learned to work this out and see if we can even afford to go? I’m pretty scared the answer’s gonna be “no” 🙁 . But, I spent a month in Europe and came home with a bill of a little over $3,000. How bad can two weeks in Korea and Japan be?

4 Steps to Keeping a Budget

You Need a Budget

I never learned how to keep a budget. As a child, I was taught to save money – to have a permanent rainy day fund, so to speak. So I would save every penny I could, albeit a bit aimlessly. And since I saved so much of my income, I felt safe splurging sometimes (not regularly, and not a lot, since a perpetual fear of becoming homeless was ingrained in me early on).

But I never knew exactly how much money I had. I didn’t check my bank accounts regularly; I only glanced at my credit card bills once a month. I wasn’t a big spender, so I never had reason to worry about money. Not in the way other people worry about money. My mother instilling the fear of God and homelessness in us doesn’t count, that’s not a legit reason.

Then I lost my job. And was suddenly looking at $0 income and thousands of dollars of grad school tuition to be paid in the next three years.

I spent the first year DOING NOTHING about it. I continued to live life the same way, just with much less spending. A majority of my expenses actually came from buying lunch at work; since I no longer had a job to buy lunch at, I haven’t become too deep in the hole during my first year of unemployment.

But as I approach the end of my liquid cash, I’m feeling the squeeze. I need to find a way to stretch out the savings I have left without cashing my retirement funds and other investments. It’s time for drastic measures.

Day 8 – Friendship

(So, I said this writing challenge wasn’t essential, and yet here I am doing another installment of said challenge. Sigh.)

I’ve never been good at friendship. I was always the shy, quiet one off to the side by myself, or hovering at the edge of the group, wishing I could join while simultaneously wishing I was anywhere else. As I got older, I’ve learned to make friends better, and more easily, but also learned to care less about having a lot of friends. The proverbial quality over quantity, if you will.

This past weekend, I went out with friends to celebrate a birthday. We got to discussing our friendship, and I offhandedly replied that I wouldn’t miss them too much if we stopped being friends. Naturally, it caused shock and outrage in the birthday boy (in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have said that during someone’s birthday dinner, but we were having a deep, meaningful discussion, okay?).

But that’s my truth. You would think that someone who’s struggled with making friends her whole life would cherish the few friends she had more closely. For me, it was the opposite. I think I’ve learned to not hold anything too dearly, for they could be taken away at any time.

Until the last few years, it was hard being my friend. You can always rely on me to help when you need it, but I would never ask you in return. I will listen to all your troubles, and give sage advice. But you will never learn anything about me. And until recently, I wasn’t very empathetic; I didn’t know how to deal with your feelings, and I shut mine down. Or I would overreact when I couldn’t suppress my emotions any longer.

It’s awkward for me when someone values our friendship more than I do. My default is to believe I’m the one who values our friendship more. (Because of my confidence issues and whatnot – people actually wanting to be my friend? What?) I tend to be the one to plan outings and events; it makes me feel like I’m always the one initiating things. But I’ve come to realize that’s because I’m the only one who cares about planning. I am a meticulous planner; only recently have I learned to adapt easily to changes in plans. What we did probably didn’t matter to my friends so much as who we were with. And I think I’ve become more like that as well.

Which brings me back to the not missing friends part. I’ve come to accept that things are what they are. People will come in and out of my life; perhaps the universe only meant them to be here for a specific reason. Once their purpose in my life is fulfilled, they move on. And, if they were meant to be a part of my life, they will come back one day.

As an adult, making friends is harder. But I am better at making friends now. I know who I am and what I value. Because of that, I can choose to spend time with people who enrich my life. I can develop deeper, more meaningful connections with those people, instead of wasting time on superficial relationships.

I won’t miss you, because our relationship has been woven into the fabric of who I am.

Edit: How interesting! Following on the heels of my epiphany on friendship, Eric Barker wrote a post on making close friends :).

Second edit: I’ll be continuing my 500 word challenge over on my Tumblr, so head on over to check out the rest!

3-Month Blogging Update – Find the Essential

Find the Essential

I launched my blog with trying to find the essential, and I have to say, I’ve failed miserably. Well, no, let’s use some positive language – I am still working on figuring out what is essential. My problem is, I want to do too much, and I’m too easily distracted. It’s not completely my fault; our world today is full of distractions, designed to draw our attention. Everyone wants our attention. Which makes it all the more imperative that we find the essential.

To quickly recap the principles and steps of Essentialism:

  • First, we explore our current pursuits and pare down to what is most important to us.
  • Secondly, we work to eliminate the non-essentials that keep us from achieving the life we want to live.
  • Then, we figure out how to execute habits and a positive mindset to achieve that life.

I started off the year thinking I knew what I wanted. The thing was, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted. As with all aspects of my life, I have vague ideas of what my goals are and how I was going to achieve those goals. And I often let my goals change over time (by “time,” I mean within one to three months). That’s barely enough time to fail at something! That’s not even enough time to get started, much less enough time to start failing. But something else will pop up about a month into each new endeavor, and I’ll get distracted by the shiny packaging.

Let’s evaluate. I didn’t explicitly say what was essential. The only thing I decided was that I wanted to read. Reading is essential to me. Great! I like to read. So what am I doing with that?