The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness
I think we can all agree that this is a highly desirable trait – the question is, how do we achieve and maintain it, and what do we do when it runs out?
My first thought is that I believe resilience is highly correlated with self-efficacy – one’s sense that they have some control over their own outcome. In other words, if you feel like you can do something, you are more likely to bounce back from difficulties encountered in actually trying to do it. Conversely, if you feel powerless, you probably aren’t going to even try, much less show resilience at the first sign of trouble. If you feel like you have no power, then by definition you are going to feel like you are at the mercy of outside forces.
And of course there’s more than one kind of resilience – some people are mentally tough but physically weak, and vice versa. Let’s also be clear: some are born with a greater capacity for resilience than others, but that doesn’t mean that we all don’t share this trait to some degree.
Ultimately however, I think our capacity for resilience is most closely tied to our desire. If we want something badly enough, we won’t stop until we get it. No matter how much pain and suffering are dished out along the way. And if we want it badly enough, a good argument could be made that it’s not even that important whether or not we actually get it. The journey in working for it, and bouncing back from the painful failures we invariably encounter, becomes its own reward.
Maybe our ability to absorb pain and bounce back from it is the whole point – if so, perhaps we should celebrate what seems in the moment to be overwhelming stress and adversity as a test to see what we are made of.