The Power of Resilience

Even though it has been almost eight years since my cancer diagnosis, I speak a lot about my journey. Why! 1) My experience with cancer has made me who I am today. 2) It is my desire to give back and help others, and 3) I have realized that many people relate to my story. Not because of cancer, however. They relate to my story because they relate to the journey itself, and the immense amount of strength and resilience one can gain as a result of trekking through difficult situations in one’s life.

Resilience is a person’s capacity to manage stress and cope with crisis and adversity. Resilience is a healthy adjustment to a setback. Resilience is rebounding more quickly and harnessing one’s own inner strength. Resilience is personal growth, and it is powerful stuff!

George Bonanno, professor of Clinical Psychology from Columbus University says when someone is hit with loss or trauma as a result of relationship issues, health problems, or workplace and financial worries, for example, it is resilience that gets them back on track.

Not surprisingly, resilient people tend to be more flexible, view set-backs as temporary, practice being grateful, seek support from others and take care of themselves. If one lacks resilience, however, they may tend to feel like a victim, become overwhelmed easily, and dwell in the negative, sometimes even choosing unhealthy and self-sabotaging behaviors such as substance abuse, overeating, or other avoidant mechanisms and distractions.

If you feel that resilience is not your strong suit, no worries, you are not doomed. Bouncing back is a process, not a character trait. In other words, resilience is learned. Unfortunately, learning to be resilient requires a few blows. But as you learn to roll with the punches that life delivers, you in turn get stronger. So the idiom, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” is not so far from the truth.


Things That Matter Most

As a writer, Associate Professional Clinical Counselor, Success, Culture and Communications Coordinator at Online Trading Academy, cancer survivor, and mother of three grown children, I would like to take this opportunity to share a few things I have learned over the years. Things I wished I learned instead of algebra. Things I wished my parents told me, but I wouldn’t have listened if they did. Things I know I can’t teach my kids, but I try anyway. These are the things that matter most. Things I want to share with you as a reminder of what is important in this life.

This is MY list. I do not assume that what matters most to me matters most to you. But I have a feeling that we are not all that different from each other. I know this list is not complete. This is “Part One” of many. Take what you want, and leave the rest.

Things That Matter Most

You are one of a kind, an original. Out of the 7 billion people on this planet, no one has your talents, your abilities, your body, your mind or your spirit.

Live a life worth living, a life full of possibilities, a life that matters. No regrets!

Take care of your body. For your body is a hallmark of your story.

Write a good story. And don’t be afraid to revise it from time to time.

Eat whole foods, exercise daily, go outside, and breathe deep the fresh air and sunshine.

Keep learning, reading, travelling and saying “yes” to the world. There are teachers everywhere and learning moments in every experience, good and bad.
Embrace them both.

Think outside of the box. Better yet, get rid of the box altogether.

Be creative. Keep busy. Boredom is a symptom of the unimaginative.

Do not spend more than you earn.

Do not listen to that annoying little voice in your head. It’s just an annoying little voice. Instead, go deeper. Listen to the voice that knows–the voice with power, the one true voice. It will not lead you astray. It knows what is best for you, even if you don’t. And the more you pay attention to it, the easier it gets.

When that voice (not the annoying little one) is telling you to do something, and you are scared to death to do it, do it anyway. Fear is just fear. That’s all. Do not let it keep you from your dreams.

Take risks. Make mistakes. Put yourself out on a limb. Do not be afraid to make a fool of yourself. Do not be afraid to be wrong. You will miss out on a full and meaningful life if you play it safe. Don’t miss out!

Learn to live with the anxiety that comes with not missing out. Get good at feeling uncomfortable. Discomfort is normal. It means you are living.

Do not anesthetize with food, alcohol, social media or another person. Do not fall for distractions, fantasies and quick fixes. “A life lived only in search for highs will prove in the end to be a transient superficial life.” James Hollis

Accept that we truly know nothing. Accept the fact that everything on this list could change next year. Accept that you will never know all the answers. The one thing that is for sure is that nothing is for sure. Embrace this ambiguity. It is a sign of being a grown-up.

Grow up!

Be open! Open your heart. Open your arms. Open! Unlock the mysteries within. Break down your walls. If you have to, get that sledgehammer out…

And love…love with all your heart. Love like Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha combined. Love until it hurts. And it will hurt.

And when it hurts, go ahead and cry. “…you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.” Lemony Snicket

Be the compassion you want to see in this world. Feel other’s suffering. Be empathetic. Do not judge.

Loneliness is a human condition.

Solitude is the cure.

There is no magical other. I repeat, there is no magical other. Do not expect someone to take care of you, validate you, rescue you, or complete you. Only you can complete you!

Don’t take anything personally. Toltec wisdom says, “Nothing others do is because of you.”


Live and let live.

Let go and forgive. Forgive others and most of all forgive yourself.

Anger and resentment are self-destructive. You are the one that suffers.

You cannot control another human being. And no one can control you.

You are the boss of you. Take personal responsibility for yourself. No one can protect you from necessary choices. The choices are yours alone. You own them. Take a stand. Be empowered.

Have a say in your own life.

You do not need permission.

Live with integrity. Be impeccable with your word. Don’t assume anything and always, always do your best.

Do not assume that if you are a good person and you live a good life that life will be good to you.

The Universe does not work that way.

Life is not fair. And that is okay.

When life is not happening the way you want, when it is moving slowly or not moving at all; be patient. Allow things to happen without forcing an outcome.

And be happy!

Happiness is inside of you. It is not out there. It is a state of being. Elusive, like trying to catch a butterfly, it bounces on the air here and there, occasionally landing on a random flower or you, then flutters away bouncing off into the air again, usually just out of your reach. Be thankful when it lands. And when it flies away, know that it will land again.

Be grateful.

It’s all about the journey.

And, never ever ever give up! As Odysseus reminds us in his hero’s voyage, “I will stay with it and endure through suffering hardship, and once the heaving sea has shaken my raft to pieces, then I will swim.”

Swim, my fellow travelers, swim.

You’ve got this!


Are you waiting to be happy? Maybe you tell yourself once I get that raise I will be happy, or once I hit the next sales target I will be happy or once I buy my dream house, lose ten pounds, or fall in love, I will be happy. Success first, happiness second. There is a problem with this thinking. It is backwards. Over a decade of research in neuroscience and psychology shows that happiness and optimism is a precursor to success not the other way around. In fact, happiness and optimism actually give us a competitive edge in business and in life that international bestseller Shawn Achor calls the Happiness Advantage.

According to Achor, when we are positive, we become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient and productive!

One of the best ways to train your brain to think more positively is to make a daily list of the good things in your job, your family, and your life. It may sound ridiculously simple—because it is simple—but studies show over and over again that writing a gratitude list every day has a profound effect on the way our brains are wired.

When you write down three good things—only three—that happened that day, your brain literally scans the last 24 hours of your life for any potential positive moments—things that brought you joy, made you smile, feel like you accomplished something, strengthened a connection with a co-worker or family member, and/or gave you hope for the future. This simple five-minute practice trains the brain to notice possibilities and opportunities for personal and professional growth. And when you notice the opportunities, you can seize on them.

Not only will you notice and take advantage of opportunities, a wonderful byproduct of practicing gratitude is that our brains begin to push out all the small annoyances and frustrations. In other words, you learn to not stress over the small stuff, because the good stuff is so much better.

This holiday season, embrace all that you are grateful for and enjoy the good stuff life has to offer.

About Shawn:

Recently, Shawn sat down with Oprah at her house to discuss the science of happiness, defining success and how we can bring the powerful research-based techniques of positive psychology to the world. To share the message that happiness is a choice, Shawn and The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) created an in-depth, two-part Happiness Course to help individuals impact their own lives and the lives of those around them with the Happiness Advantage.

Shawn’s research on happiness made the cover of Harvard Business Review, his research and work on stress in partnership with Yale University at UBS was published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and his PBS special has been seen by millions. Shawn has worked with over a third of the Fortune 100 companies, as well as the NFL, the NBA, the Pentagon and the White House. His talks have taken him to more than 50 countries, where he has spoken to CEOs in China, doctors in Dubai, schoolchildren in South Africa, and farmers in Zimbabwe.

Author: Deanne Brown