The Importance of Resiliency

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So, how is your comeback going?

The truth is, most of us are in the middle of a comeback, right now. We're coming back from a broken heart or a broken leg. We're coming back from a bad investment, a bad accident, a bad childhood, a bad relationship or a bad experience. We're coming back from a 48-hour case of the flu or a year-long battle with cancer. We're coming back from the loss of a job or the loss of a friend.

We are all in the ring battling life's never-ending challenges, and everyone has the choice to mount a comeback or accept a setback. How successful we are in bouncing back has a cumulative effect on how quickly we age, how long we maintain our independence and, ultimately, the overall quality of our lives moving forward.

If you want to accept the impact of your most recent setback that is your right, but understand that life will continue to knock us down. There'll be another setback and then another and each one will extract active toll on the overall quality of your life. At some point we all have to surrender but for the vast majority of us that time is not now, not yet.

Life requires resilience. More than a popular buzzword, resilience is the psychological strength to cope with stress and hardship. It’s critically important as we age because it makes us better able to rebuild our lives after setbacks of any kind. The good news is that we all have the ability to develop resilience. The bad news is that we have to earn it by overcoming challenges. The road to resilience is paved with hardship.

67-year-old Paula Franetti knows that well. In 2016 she was blindsided by an oncoming car as she was driving. The horrific accident nearly crippled her for life. Remarkably she survived and recovered. It took five surgeries and multiple procedures, months in a wheelchair, and a lot of hard physical and mental work, along with support from family, friends and the medical community. But mostly it took the commitment to herself.

The doctors put Paula’s body back together, but they offered no guarantees. Paula did the rest, returning to competing on a masters basketball team at the National Senior Games. Today she uses the lessons she learned to help others recover, through her business,

“I've been through probably the most catastrophic thing I've ever experienced in my life and it can't get any worse than that,” Franetti said. “I want to live life to its very fullest from here on out. I don't know how many more years it's going to be, but I have a deeper appreciation for who I am and what I've been able to achieve and how meaningful life is now.”

Darryl Perry is a former Florida Gators football player that suffered a near death experience. His heart went into cardiac arrest as he slept, his brain was deprived of oxygen and after life-saving measures, Perry went into a coma. Against all odds and the expectations of his doctors, weeks later Perry woke up...but to a different way of life than he had known. He had to learn to walk again, talk again and navigate life in a different way. His resilient, determined spirit and faith carried him forward.

“It’s very important for anyone who is facing a life-changing event to stay positive,” said Perry. “I don’t care what’s going on, you have to find the positive in it.”

If you want to continue living an active, engaged life and want to keep having adventures and spending time with those you love—doing what you love—resilience is critical. Unfortunately, having resilience doesn't mean you’ll experience less distress, grief, or anxiety. It just means that you have the healthy coping skills that will allow you to not just bounce back but to emerge stronger than ever. For inspiration for your own comeback journey, enjoy these stories of "Surviving and Thriving" from our friends at Growing Bolder.

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