November 2012 Update

I felt compelled to participate in Quora’s discussion “Why are some people more resilient than others?” Please, share your comments either here or at My answer:

I took Psychological Resilience Class PSYC-E-1018 led with Dr. Shelley Carson at Harvard Extension School in Jan 2012. Criteria: a prerequisite for resilience is adversity. A consequence of resilience is positive adaptation or growth.
Resilience is a combination of risk and protective factors throughout life. There are many pathways in and out of resilient behavior; you have to have risk factors and protective factors.

“From developmental PPath studies protective factors are:

Within the child:
high IQ; temperamental characteristics (extraversion, pleasant disposition); physical attractiveness; religious orientation
Family characteristics:
maternal warmth; good father/child relationship; absence of parental mental disorders; father employment
Outside the family:
positive school experience; good peer relations; extended social network; positive role model; safe neighborhood; availability of community resources”

The main thing I got out of the class is that is all about the formula:

E+R=O (Event+Response=Outcome) or ABC:
A-     Activating or adverse event
B-     Beliefs about event
C-     Consequences

When you change your beliefs about the event/create good response to even a negative event, you ameliorate risk. How to do it? Through meditation, physical exercise, volunteering, learning new skills, and discovering and doing what you love, finding meaning in what you do, creating positive relationships, learning copying strategies (emotional sharing or problem-solving).
Pillars of resilience:

1.      Positive attitude, including activities you enjoy
2.      Cognitive flexibility (learning), including habits
3.      Problem-focused copying and instrumental social support
4.      Meaning making
5.      Social support

“Take-home message: Adversity is part of life. We have the ability to be resilient in the face of adversity. We can learn resilience from role-models. We have a toolkit of developable skills. We have the ability to use our resilience to emerge even stronger after adversity”. I highly recommend this class to all interested in this topic.

Also see a Roadmap on problem resolution, Martin Seligman’s article on Building Resilience and Students Feedback on this class.

We had another Santa Monica New Tech event at CrossCampus in November and Heather Martin wrote an article about it “New Tech Meetup – Creating Your Happiness Formula and Other Cool Stuff!”

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