Wednesday 7 December 2016

Operation Transformation's Dr Eddie Murphy: The new mindfulness

Resilience is the real key to a happy life

Published 06/03/2016 | 02:30

Dr Eddie Murphy: Photo: Kip Carroll
Dr Eddie Murphy: Photo: Kip Carroll

Positive psychology focuses on what makes individuals thrive. When you are thriving you are living a life of meaning, engagement and fulfilment. At the moment, mindfulness is seen by many as the path to this. However, while I value the practice, I believe that the real key to happiness is resilience. Happiness is not something that just happens to us, it's the way we think and how we deal with hard times.

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When things fall apart, a set of resilience tools can be very helpful. These problem-solving tools are essential life skills that, I believe, need to be integrated into our primary and secondary education system. Many children are not allowed fall/fail anymore, so when it invariably happens they just don't know how to bounce back. Remember, resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. The road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress, but resilience involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed.

The most important factor in resilience is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family. Relationships that create love and trust, provide role models, and offer encouragement help bolster a person's resilience.

How you build bounce-backability!

Develop a sense of optimism. Can you imagine wearing glasses that actively select optimism? Just as a person has physical fitness, so too there is mental fitness.

Live a life with meaning and passion

Get beyond yourself: find meaning and passions and fill your life with them. I think of Penny, a woman who experienced depression. Having lost many family members through cancer, she wanted to raise money for hospice services. She has swum, walked, run, climbed mountains and had her hair shaved. Her life is full of meaning and passion.

Learn to laugh at yourself

Laughing at yourself when you do something foolish can release negative emotions.

Find role models

We all need wise people in our lives - people you can look up to and from whom you can get advice. Real people who are their real selves. Sometimes you can also pick 'parts' of people to emulate - someone's assertiveness, or another's sensitivity.

Adopt new approaches to challenges and setbacks

Rather than seeing setbacks as failure, or challenges as stressful, ask yourself these questions: What is the best thing I can do here? What options have I got? Is there anything I can learn from the situation? When you adopt the stance of a learner, your questions promote acceptance and empower your undertaking of new actions.

Learn from failure

Resilient people don't see failure as a negative but as a learning process and that they need to take risks in order to thrive.

Take control

Nobody is responsible for your life except you. Take control. By believing that you have some control, your confidence will shift in the right direction. Tackle things straight on. Don't procrastinate. Just do things today.

Compare and despair

Resilient people don't compare themselves to others, they are interested in trying to improve themselves day by day.

Nurture friendships and relationships

Having a network of friends or family provides us with social support that is incredibly important for both happy occasions and challenging times. It breaks down the isolation, opens up new opportunities and lets us know that we are not alone.

With resilience we can enter into the painful spaces that invariably occur with the passage of time; this allows us to grow and adapt into new spaces where life is filled with hope, meaning, and passionate engagement.

Key Tasks With Resilience

• The capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out

• A positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities

• Skills in communication and problem-solving

• The capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses

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