Can You Learn To Be Resilient?

I read yesterday that you cannot teach nor can you learn resilience. I was floored by this statement. It frightened me for two reasons; the first being I have a business which focusses on building resilience in people, the second is because I once "fell over" and now worry that it will happen again if I cannot build resilience within myself.

So I have spent the last 24 hours searching, reading, reviewing, and finalising my findings. YES, you can teach resilience and YES you can learn to be resilient. Recent research is overwhelmingly positive on this. (You can stop reading now if you wish!).

I will come back to the word 'positive' shortly but let's look at the word 'recent'. The majority of detractors I have read discussing resilience are those from a different generation. That's a nice way of saying the older people. Not all of them, just a few who have come out strongly against having the ability to learn to be resilient.

'Positive' psychology, from what I can determine, has been around for a while. But it would appear that positive psychology has made enormous leaps in recent years by advocates such as Martin Seligman. In Australia and New Zealand we have a wave of younger psychologists who are doing fantastic work in this area. They are open to new ideas and keep abreast of new research. And they speak in plain language.

I have read many many (that's lots of) books on psychology in a selfish attempt to help myself. The books that resonate the most for me were those who spoke of positive psychology. You see, it is not about the form of psychology used to get my head right, it is about finding the form that works for me. And positive psychology for me works, it works very well.

The methods used in positive psychology make sense. If you focus on thinking about positive things surely your brain will become accustomed to only thinking positively? A simplistic view perhaps but one that again works for me. And it works for others as I have found over the last 8 years of teaching communication and resilience.

I was fortunate enough to present at a wellbeing retreat run by the Auckland University of Technology this weekend. The programme I that I run is based on positive psychology and what I have found worked for me. The attendees of the resilience workshop enjoyed the session and each took away something to help themselves. It resonated with them not because of the facilitator, because it felt right.

To those who say that you cannot teach or learn resilience I say, why not? What if we were all different and side-stepped in another direction to traditional methods? What if psychology was about to make another leap forward, what if we took a holistic view at looking after our brain in the same way that we take a holistic view at looking after our body.

The answer for me is simple, (because I am a simple man), if it works then use it. If you haven't tried it, do so. After all what do you have to lose except your sanity?