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Survive and Thrive

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Everyone experiences adversity or times in life when challenges seem insurmountable.

But have you ever wondered why some people seem to float through it and others are paddling like ducks beneath the surface?

The answer is resilience, says Clayton Cook, an associate professor at the School of Psychology at the University of Washington.

Resilience, something that is slowly attracting more interest in the field of mental health, has two dimensions, he says.

“The first is called surviving.”

This is having the skills to bounce back from a setback or a tragedy. Not ignore it, or pretend to be unbothered by it, of course, but to deal with it truthfully and move forward.

The second element to resilience is more fascinating though.

It's called the “thriving element”.

And what that means is not just surviving but optimising your well-being.

You don't have to be under stress or confronted with any major challenger or stressor in order to enhance your well-being, says Cook.

Rather you can have conscious routines, habits and attitudes that make you feel great. You also minimise toxic habits and relationships.

The result of this behaviour is that you view your life as satisfying and meaningful and, of course, mainly happy.

You're not just ticking things off a huge to-do list that runs your life, simply going through the motions of what may be a now outdated plan that you set in place. Rather, you can find a reason for everything you do that makes sense to you.

You're are also content with who you are or what you have, you don't have to be the first, or the best, or the richest.

The good news is, you don't to be born with resilience, you can develop it.

A first step is working out what your values are and trying to live your daily life according to those, suggests Cook.

For example, you may survive and thrive through the stress of having a new baby because your value is to be a good parent and you can see how the work aligns with this.

It's failure to do this – align values and behaviours - that creates chronic stress that erodes resilience.

Think about what's important to you – being fit and well, being a good parent, doing meaningful work, or having great relationships.

Only when you have decided what your values are you can plan to live more happily.

Putting habits in place like regular exercise, eating well, doing a relaxation or meditation exercise daily, and honouring relationships are all part of building resilience.

Mark McKeon, director of Mischief, Motivation, Attitude and author of Get in the Go Zone, says it takes four weeks to form a habit.

So get out your planner, and spend some time working out how you can not only survive life's adversities but thrive.

Try this exercise to see where you are in your current life with aligning values and behaviourshttp://www.thehappinesstrap.com/upimages/act_made_simple_-_client_handouts_and_worksheets.pdf

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