Awareness is Where Micro-Resilience Begins
In my most recent post, I introduced positive psychology as the foundation of micro-resilience and asked you to begin, continue or strengthen the practice of becoming more present in your daily life. The intention behind this ask was to help you expand your awareness of the varied emotions and thoughts that arise throughout your day. If you tried it, then you already know; an awareness or mindfulness practice may seem simple at first glance, but it certainly isn’t easy.
Increasing your awareness is HARD – but it is also the necessary first step in your micro-resilience practice for good reason.
Why is Awareness so Important?
An awareness of all the moments in your day, how you feel and the many thoughts running through your head allow you to fully experience your life. Let’s face it – without awareness, we’re kind of asleep at the wheel. Awareness can make the bright moments that much more vibrant and fill us with joy, but this intensity applies to the other side of the coin as well. If we’re aware of and stay present in the emotions associated with physical or emotional pain, then we will feel things more acutely. Again, see point above: being aware and present is no small feat!
With all of that being said, here’s the thing: if we’re not aware of what is going on in the moment, of how we feel and of our thoughts, then it’s basically impossible to accurately address an issue and move beyond it. Think of a scenario where a friend is mad at you, for example, but you don’t know why. If you’re unclear on what the root of his or her anger is, then how can you address it and get back on good terms?
The Link Between Awareness and Creating Action
The practice of micro-resilience empowers us to take control of our lives. It’s designed to help us build strength and take action against the daily negative micro-moments so that we can move past and rise above them. I know it may seem like awareness can’t be linked to action because it you’re not technically doing anything, but I promise you:
Awareness is crucial if you want to move forward.
We often view action as something that requires movement or momentum, but I recently learned a key lesson: often times, the kind of action we need is actually inaction. Awareness is the perfect example of this; the practice of being present with any issue at hand and the entire ecosystem that contributes to it (the people, the environment, your past, certain triggers, etc.) is a step forward, even if it doesn’t seem like it.
Let’s Get Specific: Awareness & Our Thoughts
Now that we’re clear on the importance of awareness, I want to specifically hone in on the value of an awareness of our thoughts and how what we think contributes to our ability to practice micro-resilience.
I am a firm believer that our thoughts create our reality. I believe the way we see and deal with a life event is what matters, not the event itself. This can be a pretty radical concept to grasp; I find that it’s hard for many to swallow because it implies we are responsible for what happens and how things unfold. It is much easier to blame someone else or an outside factor for our unhappiness; but in truth, it largely falls on us. How you choose to respond to a situation is up to you. If you’re still not convinced and want proof, then look no further – recent positive psychology research proves this same point.
What Research Says About the Power of Our Thoughts
Positive Psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky introduced the sustainable model for happiness in 2005, which provides a breakdown of the three main factors that contribute to our happiness or well-being. The three parts of our lives responsible for happiness are genetics, outside circumstances and intentional activities; while these things may not be surprising in and of themselves, the ratio of their significance certainly is. Genetics are responsible for 50% of our happiness, outside circumstances (or the actual events in our lives) make up only 10%, and intentional activities make up a remarkable 40% of our happiness or well-being.
Yes – you read that correctly.
The intentional activities – actions or practices you choose to engage in as well as how you choose to think about what has happened – far outweigh the events themselves (the “facts”, so to speak). The key word here is choose; we hold the power to make ourselves happier through our conscious thoughts, actions and decisions. We create our lives, responsible for our own reality. The breakdown of these three pillars affirms the need for micro-resilience; regardless of whatever comes up, it gives us hope and reason to believe our ability to thrive is within our grasp. To quote Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”
A Practical Example of How to Observe and Shift Your Thoughts
A simple and easy way to practice becoming more aware of your thoughts and shift them to the positive is an exercise called benefit finder vs. fault finder. A fault-finder is someone who can find fault in anything – even paradise! It is someone who – intentionally or unintentionally – looks for the negative side of things no matter what. A benefit finder, on the other hand, is one who can find the good and see the benefit of any situation (no matter how tough!). Let’s take being fired, for example. A fault finder might blame the company, feel slighted and dwell on the fact that they were wrongfully terminated, etc. A benefit finder might respond and say something like “I’m sad I lost my job, but I’ve been dreaming about doing something new or going back to school for a while now. I’m going to use this time as an opportunity to explore where my passions lie and what I want to do next”.
Do you see the difference? The event itself – being fired – didn’t change. The way in which someone thinks about an event has a profound impact on the outcome. Just like positive psychology, however, I want to note that benefit finders do not ignore the negative aspects of the event itself. Finding benefits is more about shifting your focus. It’s the act of looking for the positive in spite of and alongside everything else.
How can you be more of a benefit finder in the weeks to come? If you find yourself focusing on the negative aspect of a situation – warranted or not – can you shift your perspective and look for the benefits too?
Give it a try! As always, I’d love to hear what you think.
In the upcoming months, I’ll explain micro-resilience in more detail and show how it can be applied to the six pillars of wellness – thoughts, feelings, actions/behaviors, eating, movement and sleep – in bi-monthly blog posts. Click here or enter your name and email below if you'd like to be kept in the loop for upcoming posts and all things micro-resilience.
About The Author
As a former marketing strategist and avid reader, Sofia Adler is a lover of storytelling (especially the stories we tell ourselves). Sofia graduated from Colgate University with a Bachelor’s degree in sociology and is currently getting a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology and Education with a concentration in Spirituality and Mind/Body practice from Teachers College, Columbia University (expected December 2018). Sofia is a 200-hour RYT yoga instructor specializing in vinyasa and restorative practices and has participated in multiple yoga philosophy trainings.
Sofia has completed an array of additional courses and workshops on coaching, mindset and the spirit, mind and body connection, all of which have influenced her coaching approach and style.