How to Become Resilient
February 16, 2016 10:46 AM   Subscribe

I read this interesting New Yorker article by Maria Konnikova about how people become more (or less) resilient. I'd like to read more about the things she talks about. Can anyone recommend books that talk about resilience.

Most of my searches turned up academic journals and I'd like something that's easier to read. The researcher she quotes extensively (George Bonanno) has written books, but they mostly seem to be about overcoming bereavement. I'd also like to learn about the "Internal Locus of Control", if there are books that talk about that too.
posted by nevan to Education (15 answers total) 107 users marked this as a favorite
You could do a lot worse than Way of the SEAL, by retired SEAL Mark Divine. He covers resilience and grit extensively, as well as how to develop it in yourself.
posted by culfinglin at 10:47 AM on February 16, 2016

I liked this book for a one month mental resilience workshop:
More palatable if you're religious I suppose.

Also, look up Julien Smith's The Flinch. A very short and instructive read about developing grit and determination.
posted by zdravo at 11:09 AM on February 16, 2016

If you want to be resilient live in the moment. Books on Zen, books by Eckert Tolle, etc. can help you achieve this. The past is full of regret, the future full of fear. Stay in the now and enjoy whatever life throws at you.
posted by caddis at 11:19 AM on February 16, 2016 [9 favorites]

When I think of resilience, I think of the work of Emmy Werner. Another pioneer in this field is Anne Masten. I haven't read her new book but its supposedly less jargon-y, and weaves her research with real life examples: Ordinary Magic.
posted by inevitability at 11:37 AM on February 16, 2016

The stuff the guy's talking about in the article is very similar, if not exactly, CBT. You can find a therapist who practices that particular brand of therapy (and you have to make sure they actually do practice it, since it's a popular buzzword to use in ads).

I'd suggest Albert Ellis - A Guide to Rational Living. The stuff he's talking about matches right up with Ellis's ideas.

Another excellent book is Thich Nhat Hanh - The Heart of Buddha's Teaching.
posted by gehenna_lion at 11:38 AM on February 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

This may provide some insights and maybe a direction for more research: It's a guide to teaching resilience in children for parents and teachers by the APA.
posted by JenMarie at 12:00 PM on February 16, 2016

I study resilience, although not psychological resilience. You could do worse than start with the broad overview by Zolli & Healy, Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back. It's broader than just psych resilience but does touch on it quite a bit.

An interesting counter-argument is Evans & Reid's Resilient Life: The Art of Living Dangerously, which is much more about catastrophe and government, but the critiques there (that resilience is basically just newer and more exciting victim-blaming) can be scaled down to the individual too.
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:11 PM on February 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

You might like The Upside of Stress. It touches on many of these themes, and combines descriptions of scientific studies with journaling/thought exercises that are based on those studies.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:52 PM on February 16, 2016

Beware of the pop psych books on grit. It is coming under pretty heavy attack in the research psych literature of late.
posted by srboisvert at 1:20 PM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

The elements of resilience described in that piece (that are available to an adult) involve framing events as controllable or surmountable, and increasing your sense that you can control things. Have you seen this? People with an "internal locus of control" basically put themselves in the driver's seat no matter what. When bad things happen, they understand those events as not having been caused by them, but by (temporary) external forces. When something good happens, they explain it by focusing on how their own (permanent) abilities and skills contributed to that result. And you can have a global locus of control, in relation to your whole life and the way you understand your personality, or you could have a different locus of control for different areas of life (e.g. your work, your hobbies, etc.)

2nd that CBT can help you adjust your explanatory style. It can do that by helping you reframe events (as externally or internally caused, etc.) For example, if you blame yourself for some unhappy current state, a therapist (or book) can help you look at the bigger picture, and how other factors were at play (i.e., help you "reframe" things). If you're anxious or fearful about something that you *could* actually handle, it can help you test your fears. And also take small, *reasonable*, winnable steps in the direction of addressing feared things, or feeling more competent in a given area ("construing" [interpreting] events as manageable, and seeing yourself as capable).

Emotional regulation is another suggestion. They suggest detaching from stressful or overwhelming moments. Mindfulness is one technique often talked about to help with that. The advice in the article is to focus on neutral stimuli - this is one example of that kind of technique.)

2nd Albert Ellis for CBT, also David Burns' Feeling Good. Carol Dweck's Mindset can help you see yourself as capable of change and growth - as having agency. Seligman's positive psychology resources can help you identify your strengths.
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:36 PM on February 16, 2016 [8 favorites]

I just heard ted radio hour podcast about this yesterday Episode is titled to Endure.

To quote the site
"What allows us to endure our darkest moments? What does it take to show resilience in the face of adversity? In this hour, TED speakers explore the outer limits of inner strength. "
posted by radsqd at 1:59 PM on February 16, 2016

I think Dweck's Mindset, linked above, is very good. I recall that book having some somewhat unkind words for CBT as a way of actually changing mindset vs trying to just attack the habits that come out of mindsets.
I also agree that Buddhist and mindfulness resources are basically always applicable to practically any pop-psych trend you see coming out. Study the dharma and you'll get a solid dose of what it means to be: resilient, creative, lucky, kind, loved... The more I study Buddhism the more I realize that most pop psych books are just new ways of retelling old lessons. You don't have to be particularly religious or spiritual to appreciate the value of being in the moment and learning how to let go of things, which I think is a huge part of what people are looking for when they're seeking resilience. My favorite resources for this include Tara Brach and books by Pema Chodron.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:47 PM on February 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yep, Carol Dweck is considered the grandmother of this research. There was an epic thread on the Blue many years back about her work which resonated with a LOT of Mefites. She has a few books out, including the already-mentioned Mindset. I also like this chart.

There is also a researcher in Houston doing work on grit/resiliance.

Another thing you might want to read up on, which is related, is the recent acedemia on willpower and how it's a limited resource. This is also known as "ego depletion," or the loss of that locus of control. The good news is that researchers believe willpower, like a muscle, can be strengthened.
posted by Brittanie at 1:28 AM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Resilience Factor is excellent.
posted by toby_ann at 7:27 AM on February 17, 2016

Just came in to also recommend Mark Devine, if you're the type of person who would respond to martial analogies and "warrior mindset" type stuff.
posted by daniel striped tiger at 9:03 AM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

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