Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. We might think of resilience as being like ‘toughness’. It is the ability of something to be elastic and to spring back into shape. Think of a tree blowing in a storm – it bends but it does not break and when the storm has passed it stands back up again.

Resilience is needed in times of change and difficulty. It is the ability to recover or adjust after such a change. There is a kind of buoyancy to resilience. Like a buoy in the ocean it can be pushed under water but when the force pushing it is removed, it pops back up.

The astronaut, Chris Hadfield, says that when he was in space, he could hear parts of meteorites bouncing off the spaceship. But instead of letting his mind run wild worrying about what might happen, instead they would learn about the danger. How fast are these things travelling? Where are they coming from? How durable is the spaceship? How likely is it that it will damaged or punctured by one of these meteorites? If that happened what would we do then? What could we do? It is very important to look at where your power lies. Chris says that he and the astronauts would make a plan for what to do if the worst happens. They could fix a hole. They still have oxygen masks. They wouldn’t be done for. There are ways they could save themselves.


Write about a time you faced a difficulty and got through it. How did you do this? What strengths and resources did you draw on, in the world or in yourself?

It is said that ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’. Did this experience strengthen you in any way? What capacities or skills did you develop? What did you learn?

Discussion: What is the nature of resilience? What gives us the strength to bounce back? What are some ways that we can increase our resilience? How do we build and strengthen resilience?

When we face a difficulty, we are more resilient if we feel we have some control. Try to focus on the part of the problem you can control. Also, when we frame a difficulty as a challenge, we tend to be more resourceful in dealing with it. Ask yourself: What is the opportunity in this difficulty?


Bring to mind a time when you felt strong and resilient. Perhaps you overcame a challenge or achieved something difficult. Notice how it feels in your body. What feelings or sensations arise? Then enhance the feeling by ‘embodying’ a sense of strength or toughness. You might tense muscles, straighten your spine, or create a determined expression on your face.

You could also picture someone who embodies this quality and draw on their strength by holding them in your mind’s eye.

Record anything you noticed afterwards in your journal. How did the exercise effect you?