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  • March 28, 2024

THE JOY OF RESILIENCY: Sticking It Out When It All Hits the Fan (Part 2)

In Part 1, I mapped out the ever-present nature of trauma in our lives and the role of resiliency in overcoming its effects. I also offered the first three of the six guidances on achieving the joy of resiliency: a Never-surrender spirit, a Maverick Mindset, and a Courageous Optimism.

Here I cover a Loving Community, a Compassionate Heart, and a Pragmatic Discipline.

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A Loving Community (I get by with the help of my friends)

My friends—both in and outside of work—have been my pillars of support, sustaining my resiliency. I draw strength from the collective compassion, not only via one-on-one conversations but through the intertwined relationships among us. Something is reassuring and strengthening when a full community is behind you.

Conversely, in networks with reciprocity, it is in the shared tears and laughs around challenges, failures, and breakthroughs, that one’s own resilience becomes more durable. Resilience thrives on communal connection—in the knowledge that we do not stand alone but are part of a larger whole that both lifts one another and is lifted in return.

Surround yourself with people who inspire and support you. They may or may not have experienced your type of pain, but all have experienced some trial and tribulation. Some will have directly helpful advice, and that, of course, is good. But for friends who may not quite grasp the nature of your pain or the way through, just having their listening ear and empathy will, on its own merits, nourish and increase the tensile strength of your resilience.

One of those communities for me was a group of Korn Ferry coworkers dispersed across five different cities who had bonded with each other through an end-of-day Happy Hour every Friday during the pandemic lockdown. We had promised each other that once the lockdown lifted, we would endeavor to keep celebrating our Happy Hours, but this time look for opportunities to do them in person in each other’s hometowns. The first was with me hosting in Highland Park, a suburb outside of Chicago, centered around a Sting concert at the Ravinia Festival down the street from our house in August 2021. But after our 4th of July mass shooting, as we were still dealing with the aftermath of the tragedy, I felt a need to relieve my friends from the commitments they had made to come since dealing with the aftermath of a mass shooting was nowhere near anyone’s consciousness as we had planned our time together.

But on that Zoom call where I shared that sentiment, without missing a beat, they all said, “We’re still coming. In fact, with even more reason to come to support you and Lori.” It was the same with two of my sisters who also, rather than canceling previous plans to visit us, doubled down and showed up to walk the streets and talk with the still dazed residents who, all they could do, was be on a daily pilgrimage to the memorial for the victims. Those visits not only gave me the resilience to deal with my own emotional shattering, but also gave me the added strength as an elected official to be a source of strength and guidance for our residents and visitors.

A Compassionate Heart (give and you will receive)

While ganas is the fuel for resilience, love increases its octane. Our well-being is inextricably linked to the love we share with others. While I received love from my friends and family, as I extended love to both those in my daily life and those traumatized by the killings, it all became a positive multiplier effect in enhancing my own resilience. Giving love away just when I felt depleted paradoxically filled and strengthened me.

Loving others profoundly affects our health and resilience as a balm that soothes the soul and fortifies the spirit. When we extend love and compassion to those around us, it initiates a positive feedback loop that enhances our own well-being. Acts of love and kindness stimulate the release of oxytocin, often called the “love hormone,” which plays a crucial role in social bonding and trust. This hormonal response helps lower blood pressure, reduce cortisol levels, and promote a sense of calm and contentment—all elements required to be resilient.

Further, loving others encourages us to adopt healthier behaviors. When we care deeply for others, we’re more likely to engage in activities that benefit our loved ones and improve our health, which incentivizes us for the next and final guidance on resilience.

A Pragmatic Discipline (day-in, day-out)

When adversity strikes, maintaining emotional balance is crucial. The foundation for this balance is often laid in the most basic yet often neglected of routines: enough nightly sleep, healthy daily nourishment, and regular exercise. Enhancers of these practices are mindfulness exercises via breathing, meditation, and journaling that can increase our capacity for grace by helping us accept our present experiences without judgment.

Then get out into nature, go dancing, experience the arts, immerse yourself in something you are passionate about. Stop thinking, get out there, and connect with all that is beautiful and inspiring in our world.

And don’t forget to seek professional help or support groups dealing with your type of trauma. There’s no shame in being human, and you shouldn’t go at it alone.

Your resilience will deepen as you take care of these basics.

MOVING FORWARD WITH RESILIENCE

Resilience is the quiet power within each of us, waiting to be called on in times of need—a power that, when harnessed, can transform obstacles into opportunities for growth and change.

Elizabeth Smart figured it out: “The best punishment you could ever give [the captor] is to be happy, is to move forward with your life, to do what you want to do.” Or as stated simply in the title of a book by someone who had been shot in the head by the Taliban when she was 15 years old and survived for speaking up for girls’ rights to get educated: “I am Malala.”

Traumatic pivotal moments do not define us. Instead, they reveal the depth of our resilience. Resilience is not about passively enduring. Rather, it’s a call to action to face life’s hammer throws with grit, heart, courage, and smarts aka ganas—the key to resiliency.

Just be and declare, I am.

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