Start over tomorrow
Thomas Edison’s brilliance led to the invention of things like the phonograph and the first practical light bulb, but his most incredible trait may’ve been his resilience: The prolific inventor watched his factories burn to the ground when he was 67 years old, but instead of bemoaning his fate, Edison told his wife to gather her friends because they’d likely never again see a fire as large as that one.
Once the fire was out, he gathered all his employees and declared, “I’ll start all over again tomorrow.”
The tragedy that befell Edison isn’t unique, but how he handled it was pretty extraordinary, and we can learn a lot about resilience from his story.
Whether it’s a messy breakup, the loss of a family member, getting laid off from a job, or any number of different heartbreaks, everyone has experienced things that have brought them to their knees.
The question isn’t whether or not you will experience hardship – that’s just the price of admission to life – but how you will handle those things when they happen, says associate professor Ken Yeager, who leads a stress, trauma, and resilience program
Will it break you down or build you up stronger?
“Events like these can derail us for months – even years – unless we find productive ways to work through the pain,” says Yeager.
Productively working through pain, adapting to difficult circumstances, and learning from challenges can be summed up in one word: resilience. Simply put, it’s the art of bouncing back. Even though you may feel like you’ve been flattened when you’re hit, you still get back up and keep moving forward.
How to build resilience
Resilience isn’t a destination or a goal but rather a process that you repeat throughout your life, says Yeager. And there are things you can do to cultivate more resilience within yourself.
Getting physical activity, spending time outdoors, eating nutritious meals, reaching out to friends, doing acts of service, and talking to a trained mental health professional are a few of the proven ways to build physical and emotional resilience, he says.
Another powerful option is to learn from others who’ve experienced serious adversity and bounced back from it.
For a little inspiration, we rounded up some of the best quotes from people who have learned how to be resilient.