Let me give you the bad news first: some people are naturally more resilient than others – and life can be tough if your resilience falls in the low end of the range.

Now the good news: your level of resilience isn’t static. You can grow it – with the right brain fertilizer – to become mentally stronger in the face of adversity. This recent New York Times article discusses some of the ways it can be done.

The article is just one of many to explore the link between greater (and lasting) resilience and activities such as mindfulness, social stimulation, and physical activity. It also sets out a great definition of resilience, courtesy of Huda Akil, a neuroscientist at the University of Michigan:

“Active resilience happens when people who are vulnerable find resources to cope with stress and bounce back, and do so in a way that leaves them stronger, ready to handle additional stress, in more adaptive ways.”

In our line of work, the “vulnerable” part mentioned in the above definition is often death, and the estate dispute that follows. From our observations, while death is one of life’s certainties, dealing with it is anything but. In estate disputes, some people are able to cope with the family death and the dispute over assets. Others crumble under the weight of grief and anger. What we’ve seen in many cases is that a higher level of resilience can make a positive difference to outcomes.

How to increase resilience

So, what’s the magic “brain fertilizer” that can increase our resilience? As it turns out, it’s not really magic at all. Better health equals greater resilience, so exercising and good nutrition go a long way to improving resilience. A strong social network also plays a key role. After that, much of it involves shifting our way of thinking – which is where a trained therapist can make a huge difference.

Take a look at the American Psychological Association’s 10 ways to build resilience  and consider the opportunities you may have to bounce back stronger the next time adversity comes your way.

 

Thanks for reading!
Suzana Popovic-Montag