New York Times bestselling author and positive psychology researcher Neil Pasricha writes about building resilience through a nine-step guide filled with stories and research findings. Neil writes in You Are Awesome: How to Navigate Change, Wrestle with Failure, and Live an Intentional Life:
“It is a series of nine research-backed secrets, shared through personal stories, on how we can move from change-resistant to change-ready, failure-prone to failure-proof, thin-skinned to thick-skinned, and anxious to awesome.”
Secret #1: Add a Dot-Dot-Dot
“Sometimes the hardest thing to do is simply making the decision to keep going.”
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is simply making the decision to continue to breathe, continue to move, continue to function, continue to operate. A period means giving in to life’s circumstances, relenting in the face of things that look immovable, things that look impossible, things that look too painful.
A period is giving in.
What we need to hold on to in our hearts is the quiet courage to change the punctuation. What we need to hold on to is the idea that resilience means seeing the free will that exists just past the period.
We need to hold on to a desire to see past that full stop. To see past the period. And add a dot-dot-dot.
Everything you do, every path you take, every diagnosis you get, every wall you hit, every setback, every failure, every rejection. All of these experiences are part of the unfinished sentence of your life story.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is learn to add that dot-dot-dot… and keep going.
The Power of yet
When we gain the courage to add a “yet” to statements about ourselves, we leave our options open. Adding the word “yet” is empowering. It wedges a little question mark into the negative certainty we hold on to so fiercely in our minds. It lets us hold both ideas. The idea that we can’t. And! The idea that we can. It leaves the door open. It adds a “To be continued…”
“Resilience is being able to see that tiny little sliver of light between the door and the frame just after you hear the latch click.”
SECRET #2 : Shift the Spotlight
Your image of yourself may be projecting outward in your actions in potentially nonsensical ways.
The spotlight effect
It’s the feeling that we’re being noticed, watched, observed, and, importantly, judged much more than we really are. Because we are the centers of our own worlds, we believe we’re the center of everyone else’s world, too.
Shift the spotlight.
Remember you’re under the belief the spotlight is shining on you and everyone in the darkened audience is staring and watching and waiting. But they’re not.
When we fail, we think all eyes are on us. We think it’s all about us! Sucking at a job means being publicly humiliated and sleeping with a tray of club sandwiches or living in a box on the street. A bad breakup means no more relationships ever. One rejected college application means you’re clearly an airhead whose life is about to get stuck in a world of grueling, minimum-wage pain.
We take tiny strings of trouble and extrapolate them into huge problems with our entire identities always on the line.
“Shift that spotlight from yourself by remembering it’s not always about you and remembering it’s arrogant to always think it is.”
SECRET #3 : See It as a Step
“To see the failure you’re going through as a step up an invisible staircase toward a Future You in a Future Life you can’t even imagine yet.”
- We all think that the way things are now is the way things will continue to be.
- There’s no you of today without everything in your past. There’s no you of tomorrow without everything you’re going through now, either.
According to a study the average woman will kiss fifteen people, have seven sexual partners, four one-night stands, four disaster dates, three relationships that last less than a year, and two relationships that last more than a year, fall in love twice, be heartbroken twice, cheat once, and be cheated on once—all before she finds a lifelong partner.
Well, the average man will kiss sixteen people, have ten sexual partners, six one-night stands, four disaster dates, four relationships that last less than a year, and two relationships that last more than a year, fall in love twice, be heartbroken twice, cheat once, and be cheated on once—all before he finds a lifelong partner.
SECRET #4 : Tell Yourself a Different Story
Shame is at the root of so many stories we tell ourselves.
We have to learn to tilt the lens. You need to tell yourself a different story. You tell yourself so many stories about yourself. You need to learn how to see the stories you’re telling yourself from a new perspective. Through a new lens.
“Your problem is not the outside world. Your problem is the story you’re telling yourself about the outside world. And that story is a choice. If you’re not happy with the story, tell yourself another story. Period. That simple. And most people will hear what I just said and not change anything.” – Seth Godin, Lesson Learned from reading “The Book of Est” by Luke Rhinehart
Three big questions to help achieve this secret
Will this matter on my deathbed?
Can I do something about it?
Is this a story I’m telling myself?
1. Will this matter on my deathbed?
So you got fired. Sure, it’s terrible now. But will it matter on your deathbed? No. Tell yourself, “I’m glad I had that experience, because now I’m better prepared to find a job I love.
“So you mix up there, their, and they’re all the time. So what? I do, too. Will it matter on your deathbed? No. Definitely not! Nobody will care about your grammar at your funeral. Least of all you! You won’t really even be their.”
2. Can I do something about this?
When you ask yourself, “Can I do something about this?,” there are only two options, right? If you can, well, hey, go do it! If you can’t, well, you can’t. Why waste time worrying about things you can’t change?
3. Is this a story I’m telling myself?
This is about peeling and peeling and peeling away all the little stories we are attaching to the true facts in our lives. Because so often we’re attaching stories to facts… and we don’t even know it. Be vigilant. Search for absolute truth. Husk away all those mental attachments causing unnecessary suffering. Keep peeling and peeling and peeling until you find the solid and objective core, and then use that core to tell yourself a different story.
Ambitions exceeding abilities.
Being ambitious means you have artistic vision. It means you can imagine what the end product should look like even if you don’t know how to make it… yet. It means you have that hardest thing to develop, that thing that no amount of money can buy, and that thing more difficult than anything else to learn.
SECRET #5: Lose More to Win More
When ambitions exceed abilities it’s a clear sign you’re on the right path. It means you want your podcast or your book club or the softball team you’re coaching or the piece of software you’re designing or the surprise party you’re planning or the big report you’re preparing… to be better. And it means you know how much better it can be.
- Wanting to be better is a real gift.
- It means you’re going to keep trying.
- It means you’re going to keep failing.
- It means you’re going to keep learning.
- Sure beats doing a crappy job and being happy with it!
Three simple ways to achieve this secret
1. Go to parties (where you don’t know anyone)
Success blocks future success.
2. Have a failure budget
Set aside money for failure. Maybe it sounds odd. But come up with a figure that you can use just to try random stuff. Assume it will fail! But try it anyway. Maybe $20 at an oyster bar, $200 for a boxing class, or $1000 to go to a distant music festival.
3. Count your losses
The idea is that when you’re swimming in misery, it’s a good thing to remember all the things you’re grateful for to cheer yourself up.
“The truth is when we look at our flops we’re really giving ourselves credit for all the learning and stamina and resilience baked into those moments when we made ourselves a little stronger.”
We don’t trust people who haven’t failed and we really don’t trust people who don’t even know they haven’t failed or like to pretend they haven’t failed.
SECRET #6: Reveal to Heal
Confession is a form of mental release that is more of a thoughtful processing and less of a shaken up can of Coke.
The Two-Minute Morning Rule
- Write down one thing you want to get done on a cue card every day.
- 1. I will let go of
- 2. I am grateful for
- 3. I will focus on
We’re all awake for about 1000 minutes a day. That’s it! So isn’t it worth taking two of those minutes to help the other 998 be as good as possible? It’s an incredible lever you can use to level yourself up.
Revealing a little mental anxiety on a piece of paper has been hugely healing for me. Because, crazy as it sounds, whenever we write out our little anxieties, they disappear.
SECRET #7: Find Small Ponds
The life-changing story from the dean
Advise from John H. McArthur
“Neil, right now you’re just an eager guy standing outside the beach,” he began. “You’re standing at the fence looking in. The beach is closed, but it’s opening soon. You can see the sand, you can smell the ocean, you can see a half-dozen beautiful people sunbathing in bathing suits. But you know who’s beside you at the fence? A thousand other eager folks just like you. They’re all eager. They’re all gripping that fence. They all want on that beach. And when the door to the fence opens, they’re all running on to the hot sand and trying to seduce the same few sunbathers. Your odds of winning any of them over are so low.”
“Let the thousand other folks run in and fight each other. Let them bite and claw and scratch each other. And sure, let a few of them win over one of those few sunbathers. But it’s much better to get off the beach. Because even if you happen to win, do you know what you would be doing the whole time on that beach? Looking over your shoulder. Seeing who else is going to stake their claim and send you packing. You probably won’t win in any case. But if you do, you win a life full of stress.”
“There are far more problems and opportunities in the world than there are talented and hard-working people to solve them.”
SECRET #8: Go Untouchable
The two questions you must ask before you quit your job
Before you jump, ask yourself:
The Regret Question: What will I regret not doing more when I look at it from the future?
The Plan B Question: What will I do if it fails?
The barrage is getting louder
As our world gets busier and our phones get beepier, the scarcest resource of all is quickly becoming attention.
These are days when you are literally 100% unreachable in any way… by anyone.
Two Components of Untouchable Days
“I think of them as having two components.
- There is the deep creative work.
When you’re in the zone, your brain is buzzing, you’re in a state of flow, and the big project you’re working on is getting accomplished step by step by step.
- There are the little nitros.
Little blasts of fuel you can use to prime your own pump or open up your creative centers if you hit a wall. Those unproductive moments of frustration happen to all of us, and it’s less important to avoid them than to have a mental toolkit you can whip out when they occur. What are my tools? Heading to the gym for a workout. Grabbing a pack of almonds. Going on a nature walk. Doing a ten-minute meditation. Switching to a new work space.
SECRET #9: Never, Never Stop
We live in an age where if somebody doesn’t understand us, we show impatience, frustration, or surprise. We say it again. We yell! We pound our fists! We say it slower. So when somebody doesn’t just repeat things, but changes what they say, you know they have a different view. It’s not that you’re not getting it. It’s that it’s hard to get. And the responsibility shifts to the person who’s trying to explain.
All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.