The Cork and the Whale
A little brown cork fell in the path of a whale
Who lashed it down with his mighty tail!
But inspite of the blows
It quickly arose
And floated serenely before his nose.
Said the cork to the whale,
‘You may flap, sputter and frown
But you never, never can keep me down
For I am made of the stuff
That is buoyant enough to float
And not drown!’
This poem by an unknown poet brings a smile, but also underscores an oft- overlooked secret to overcoming our challenges — Good, old-fashioned resilience! The word resilience, interestingly, has its roots in the latin word resilire which literally means ’to bounce back’. Much like the little brown cork, resilient people are ‘buoyant enough to float and not drown.’
What do such people have in common, and what is the secret of their buoyancy?
1. They refuse to be victims. Even though they may have been genuinely wronged or had to face tragic circumstances, resilient people refuse to adopt a ’poor me’ victim-mindset. They understand that blaming others constantly, no matter how justified it might feel in the moment, leads to cynicism, and a sense of hopelessness and powerlessness.
2. They understand that victory means getting up one more time than falling down. Resilient people don’t waste a whole lot of time or emotion lamenting a setback. They simply get back up and try again. They de-escalate drama and get on with their lives, for they understand that the more often they try, the better their chances of success become.
3. They have a ’growth mindset’, as opposed to a ’fixed mindset’. According to psychologist Carol Dweck, people with a fixed mindset see failures and setbacks as a limit of their abilities, and tend to quit when things go wrong. Resilient people, on the other hand, have a growth mindset. They thrive on challenges and see failure not as evidence of inability but as a springboard for growth and for stretching their existing abilities.
4. They have a sense of humour: Resilient people can often see the funny side of a serious situation. It is not that they don’t understand the gravity of their problems, it is that they can also see them from a less grim perspective. A sense of humour defuses tension, cuts problems down to size, and gives the boost of energy needed to keep going.
5. They choose hope. Instead of assuming that the worst is around the corner, resilient people choose instead to go with the belief that the best is yet to come. In the words of the poet Maya Angelou, “Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.”
Be like the cork. Have a happy, hopeful, resilient week!