Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from hardship or difficulties. We've all known difficulties. However, it is how we respond to what happens to us that determines how we greet the future. It is what we make our experiences mean that influence our lives. It's our response to adversity, not the experience itself, that determines how our life story evolves.
Without resiliency, life's hardships weigh us down, and we become an unbending tree that breaks off in the high winds of a storm.
Is Resilience an Emotional Intelligence Skill?
Resilience is considered an emotional intelligence skill; one that many seek to develop. But is resiliency a mindset or a skill? And can love backed by a positive perspective impart its wisdom to us without developing it?
Let me tell you a true story that taught me about resiliency... and love.
It was a warm day in Honduras when our group squished into a taxi the size of a Volkswagen bug. We bounced up and down a winding dirt road for over an hour. Then without realizing it, we had turned onto a long, rutted driveway that led to the orphanage. A dozen children of varying ages ran to greet us with smiles and eager hands waving alongside the car. These spirited children wanted nothing, yet, our gift was burning a hole in our pockets. We had collected $700, and WE were going to make their lives better. Or so we thought.
The orphanage was everything we had anticipated. A dirt lawn with no outdoor climbing equipment. No living room furniture to curl up in; only a cleanly swept wooden floor with the echos of its emptiness. No toys. No television or Xbox. No pictures on the walls. Just a beat-up refrigerator and bedrooms with bunk beds standing tall and stark.
We chatted with the orphanage director, a small, kind woman. And then the unexpected—she refused our money.
Shocked by her response, we inquired why. She said that she didn't want the children to associate guests with getting material gifts. She didn't want them to see people as a means to an end. This brave and wise caregiver did not want "her" children to look for "what was in it for them."
She wanted them to gain the simple pleasure of giving and receiving love without an agenda.
Resiliency Is a Way of Living
Her words hit me with full force. At that moment, I realized that these "impoverished" children (the lives we sought to improve) were actually the rich ones. These kids had what we all long for: real love, deep gratitude for living, and an exhilarating connection to each other—all because one woman stood up for what truly mattered.
Resiliency wasn't a concept to them. These children were living witnesses to its power: happy and expecting nothing.
What a contrast to the states with child-teen anxiety and suicide on the rise, food disorders, smartphone and gaming addictions with 7-second attention spans alongside social media's pseudo connection. My heart swelled and shriveled all at once.
In a flash, I realized to my core that there is nothing more sustaining or powerful and transformative than love.
So is resilience a skill? Resiliency is a way of living. It is a brave and positive perspective that sees what is possible. Resilience lives in all of us: it is the power of love.
“The oak fought the wind and was broken,
the willow bent when it must and survived.”
~Robert Jordan in The Fires of Heaven.
When we fight what is, we are fighting the wind. When we struggle, we're refusing to accept what is. Freedom lies in acceptance.
In a barren Honduran orphanage, one woman had provided these children with love—and that had made all the difference. She didn't try to get them things to fill the vacuum. She taught them acceptance and showed them the power of connection and love—a mindset that made resilience possible.
Related reading: "How Emotional Resilience Can Help You Cultivate Happiness."
If you'd like support to gain new perspectives and greater skill, Heartmanity is here to help. Transforming lives is our business! Reach out today.