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Is resilience the most important life quality to have?

(41 Posts)
notnagging Sat 27-Jul-13 22:07:43

What would you say is the most important quality to posess? I would say Resilience.
Summarised by Psychologies today as the following
'Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after a misfortune, blessed with such an outlook, resilient people are able to change course and soldier on.
I was thinking about it as ofsted have put teaching resilience as one of their criteria for outstanding lessons. What do you think?

diddlediddledumpling Sun 28-Jul-13 21:18:09

I don't often find myself telling kids how to feel, expat. I'm not sure what you think developing resilience in school would look like, but it would have to be a bit more thought out than "be optimistic!" It would more likely involve allowing them to experience failure, disappointment, and not trying to fix it for them.
Although you might not agree, I think our positions on this have some common ground: I sometimes think the kids I teach think that everything in life is within their control (or their parents', or their teachers'), that someone will always pick up the pieces. I would like their education to help them understand that that's not always the case.

Nobody's saying that being resilient will mean bad things don't happen to you. Or that you'll cope fine when they do. Neither is it being suggested that we should tell kids how to be.

niminypiminy Sun 28-Jul-13 21:27:21

I'm mulling this over, and I suppose I think the question is, 'if resilience is the most inportant quality to have, what is it important for?'. In other words, what kind of idea about human flourishing is underpinning the notion that resilience is the most imoortant quality?

One thing we might say is that this is a utilitarian view of human flourishing. Rather than asking 'what is the best quality we might possess', or 'what is the most noble quality we might possess' or 'what is the most virtuous quality we might possess', the idea of an important quality suggests that it is important for some purpose: succeeding in life, maybe; being happy; achieving your goals. For all these, I think we could agree that resilience probably is very important.

But what about if your idea of human flourishing is different: if it is to live a good life, or to live a virtuous life, or an honourable life, or a devout life? Then you will ask different questions: how can I be good? What is necessary to be virtuous? How can I behave honourably? How can I make God's will my own? And if those are your questions then you will end up with very different qualities that seem desirable.

What I am saying, I suppose, is that resilience is the the 'best' quality for a self-defined, materialistic, happiness-obsessed age. Each age finds its own ideals, and perhaps resilience is ours. But, speaking for myself, I find it a shallow and limited one.

notnagging Mon 29-Jul-13 04:51:50

My previous post didn't post but basically I was asking if resilience isn't the most important thing to posess, what is it that makes one person better able to cope with the same situation then another?

CoolWaterRose Mon 29-Jul-13 07:36:53

Resilience is important, but I think one of the most helpful qualities to cultivate is self-compassion. A lot of suffering (both that which we inflict on ourselves and that which we inflict on others) comes from a sense of dissatisfaction with ourselves or even outright self hatred. Developing self-compassion helps us to accept and recognise our own suffering without beating ourselves up and will naturally lead to developing more compassion for others.

Resilience follows on quite naturally from self compassion as it helps to avoid getting stuck in self pity (which is a more ruminative state). I think practicing mindfulness helps with developing resilience as it allows you to see things more clearly without emotions overwhelming everything.

niminypiminy Mon 29-Jul-13 08:45:47

I beg to differ, CoolWaterRose. I find that the notion of 'self-compassion' is mainly useful for keeping intact the web of self-justifications and excuses we have for our own actions. The idea that if we were only a bit kinder to ourselves then we would naturally become kinder to each other isn't borne out by experience. People are quite good at being kind and compassionate to themselves: it's in being kind and compassionate to others (particularly if they are others we don't really like, or if being kind and compassionate involves us doing something we don't really want to do) that the deficit lies.

Compassion for others is developed by thinking of others more than oneself, and of putting their needs above one's own wants. These are hard things to do, and need practice. Being compassionate to oneself is merely a way to bolster the infinite variety of excuses we find for not doing hard, selfless things.

notnagging other qualities which might help us to cope with things might be patience, fortitude and perseverance. I'm not knocking resilience as such, more asking what it says about the moral values of the world we live in if it is seen as the most important quality, and saying that before we can say whether a quality is important or not, we should ask 'what is it important for?

notnagging Mon 29-Jul-13 22:21:48

Very interesting point niminy.

crescentmoon Tue 30-Jul-13 00:04:07

im finding myself nodding along to all of niminy's points. holding up resilience without any altruistic values to temper it will just mean that person is a 'survivor'. being such doesnt mean one cannot fall prey to egoism.

thornrose Tue 30-Jul-13 00:14:15

I don't equate resilience with survival. I describe my dd as resilient, she has Aspergers and other issues, her day to day life is tough.

She's not surviving she's just not being knocked back by every challenge. It keeps her sane to be honest.

crescentmoon Tue 30-Jul-13 00:21:38

i do think its an important quality - i think all of the world's religions and philosophies secular or not try and teach resilience. iv wondered about this. does resilience => tranquil? does tranquil => peaceful? does peaceful => helpful?

NoComet Tue 30-Jul-13 00:33:58

Resilience and compassion, being able to balance keeping life's knocks in proportion without shutting others difficulties out.

Thornrose my social miss fit of a dyslexic DD1 is very similar to your DD She's had to become very resilient because at best she gets excluded and at worse actively bullied. She also has to work way harder than her DD2 to get the same marks and yet manages to be cheerful, most of the time and kind and compassionate always.

Can resilience be taught, I'm not sure, DD1 has a deep calm self confidence beneath her dizzy dyslexic public face.
Yes the crap she gets thrown at her brings it into focus, but she was born knowing her own mind.

thornrose Tue 30-Jul-13 01:17:23

StarBall I like to think I've contributed to dd's resilience.

NoComet Tue 30-Jul-13 01:29:05

Thornrose I'm sure you have. DH and I do with lots of love, encouragement, funding hobbies she's good at and transporting her to her DFs who aren't at her school and party to the nastiness.

We've do much the same for DD2, but she hasn't DD1s optimism and resilience. Despite being very socially astute, never bullied and as undyslexic as it's possible to be, she doesn't have DD1s confidence.

She can put on a jolly good act, she takes knocks to heart and has a far more pessimistic out look on life.

NoComet Tue 30-Jul-13 01:29:54

But she takes

MostlyLovingLurchers Tue 30-Jul-13 12:18:42

If you have a clear sense of self worth and confidence you are more likely to be resilient. If you have managed expectations so that you know that you will not always win/get your own way and that it doesn't matter you are more likely to be resilient. If you don't feel that the universe is picking on you or punishing you every time something bad happens then you are more likely to be resilient.

All these factors and no doubt many others come into play. We also may be able to cope with some situations better than others. We may appear outwardly to be coping but the reality can be very different. Even if we think we are resilient in the short term things can bottle up so you lose it over something relatively small further down the line. Conversely, short term we may go to pieces, longer term we get on with things.

Does it matter if sometimes we struggle to cope? Some things in life SHOULD affect us. One of the things that help us get through the most difficult time is the support of others - back to the importance of kindness and compassion. OP - you said earlier that if you can't cope with your own life it is difficult to help others. It is often when we have been through hard times ourselves that we are best equipped to help somebody else - we can best empathise and understand when we have been through similar situations.

springytoffy Sat 24-Aug-13 10:12:13

resilience would suggest hope - for a better future eg - and faith, that there is better around the corner/in the scheme of things. Which could also suggest purpose, that there is purpose in all things.

I can't see that resilience for resilience sake is of much use tbf: gritting your teeth against the winds in order to survive. I'd rather live than survive. Which would bring in love.

So: faith, hope, love. Not necessarily in that order lol. It says somewhere that the greatest of these is love. imo love is endlessly creative, not static like eg resilience.

pinkchoccy Sat 24-Aug-13 10:43:29


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