Resilient people are really good at choosing where they focus their attention

Jun 04, 2024

 They have a habit of realistically appraising situations and typically managing to focus on the things that they can change and somehow accept the things that they can't.

This is a vital and learnable skill for resilience.

As humans, we are really good at noticing threats and weaknesses. We are hardwired for the negative. We're really really good at noticing them. Negative emotions stick to us like Velcro, whereas positive emotions and experiences seem to bounce off like Teflon.

Being wired in this way is actually really good for us and has served us well from an evolutionary perspective.  The problem is we now live in an era where we are constantly bombarded by threats all day long. And our poor brains treat every single one of those threats as though they were a tiger.  Our threat focus and our stress response are permanently dialed up to crazy levels to see the negative. 

Resilient people don't diminish the negative,

but they HAVE worked out a way of tuning into the good. 

There will be times when doubts may threaten to overwhelm you, so you need to build a response so as to not get swallowed up by this. You have to survive. You've got so much to live for - choose life, not death.  In other words:

Don't let go of all that you DO have in your life, only to focus on what you have LOST.

Try finding things to be grateful for.

For example, consider how I lost my two dogs, Nika and Tsunami, in that horrible car crash 10 1/2 years ago. 

I chose to focus on the fact that at least they didn't die of some terrible long drawn-out painful illness.  Even though the loss was gut-wrenching, their deaths were sudden and instantaneous.

I focused on the fact that I had a huge amount of social support from family and friends around the world that helped me in the search for Tobie in the desert.

And most of all, I still had four beautiful dogs to live for who needed them now and deserved to have as normal a life as I could possibly give them.


Being able to switch the focus of your attention to include the good has been shown by science to be a powerful strategy.

In 2005, M.Seligman and colleagues conducted an experiment where they asked people to simply think of three good things each day.  The results showed that over the six-month course of this study, those people showed higher levels of gratitude, higher levels of happiness, and less depression.

When you're going through grief, you might need a reminder where you might need permission to feel grateful.  Maybe you need to place a poster somewhere in your home to remind you to accept the good.  Find creative ways that work for you.

But whatever you do, make an intentional, deliberate, and ongoing effort to tune into what's good in your world.

Hug your dog!


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