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The 4 traits of resilient people – purpose

Do you know someone in your life who you’d describe as a resilient person? Or perhaps you came across a story once about an individual who displayed such resilience you couldn’t help but admire them.

In my soon-to-be released book, Thriving in Change (working title), resilience is one of the topics I discuss at length. Learning to be more resilient is absolutely essential when it comes to bouncing back from change more readily. When we are more resilient, we tend to be more resourceful with the circumstances life has dealt us and we tend to take better control of our immediate future.

Imagine if more people honed their resiliency skills. There wouldn’t be nearly as many people in the world who were fearful of change, who felt paralyzed by change, or who remained stagnant in the face of change. Instead, we would thrive as people. I think that’s something well worth working toward.

Fortunately, we can become more resilient simply by modeling our behavior after resilient people. And so last time on the blog, we began a new series on uncovering the 4 traits of resilient people, beginning with confidence. (You can read the first installment here).

As you learn more about these traits, you’ll also learn how you can apply each of them to your own life so that you can begin thriving in change. Today, we discuss PURPOSE.

For ages, humanity has searched for purpose. We want to derive meaning from our lives because otherwise, what are we here for? When we do find meaning (whether in a religion, a philosophy, a loving relationship, a career, a hobby, or something else entirely), we feel fulfilled, and this contributes to our overall happiness.

To put it another way, resilient people have a clear sense of purpose—their ‘why’ for life.

In Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, we come to understand why the ‘why’ for life is so vital.

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychologist during the Second World War, newly wed. He was also a Jew. In September 1942, Frankl, his wife, and his parents were deported to the Nazi Theresienstadt Ghetto. For the next few years, he spent his time in concentration camps.

While at these camps, he studied human behaviour and noted that despite the terrible conditions, people who survived all spoke about “what I am going to do when I get out”. In other words, they had a compelling reason to live. Whether it was to “find my family”, “open my shop again” or “emigrate to America”, they all had purpose. Those without purpose, however, often sickened and died.

In 1944, for instance, a rumour passed around in Frankl’s camp that they were being released. The allies were coming and they would all be home for Christmas. Amazingly, the death rate dropped by an astonishing number. However, when Christmas came and went and there was no release, the death rate skyrocketed between Christmas 1944 and New Year’s 1945, thus demonstrating the power of hope and purpose.

Frankl quoted Nietzsche’s popular saying that: “he who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”.

Do you have a purpose that’s driving you? Is there something that you’re waking up for every morning, something that compels you to overcome any obstacle that comes your way? What’s your personal mission statement? What are the mission statements for your career, your finances, your family, etc?

When we understand why the things we do are important (including why we are alive at all), we can endure setbacks just fine because we keep our eyes focused on what it is we’re heading toward. We keep pressing on. We keep moving forward. We work toward our goals with the utmost persistence, solving any problems that arise because failure is not an option. Resilient people have mastered this trait, and it allows them to continually put one foot in front of the other.

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