Red rose covered by snow. Winter's rose

Resilience — the ability to bounce back when times and life get tough. Philosophers, religious thinkers, and social scientists have pondered what helps us to be more resilient. Is it toughness? Flexibility? Here are some thoughts:

American families have always shown remarkable resiliency, or flexible adjustment to natural, economic, and social challenges. Their strengths resemble the elasticity of a spider web, a gull’s skillful flow with the wind, the regenerating power of perennial grasses, the cooperation of an ant colony, and the persistence of a stream carving canyon rocks. These are not the strengths of fixed monuments but living organisms. This resilience is not measured by wealth, muscle or efficiency but by creativity, unity, and hope. Cultivating these family strengths is critical to a thriving human community.

— Ben Silliman, Family Life Specialist with the University of Wyoming’s Cooperative Extension Service

Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.

— Bernice Johnson Reagon

In times like these, I look to the past. I come from people not meant to survive, and here is our bloodline, stronger than ever.

— Brittany Packnett

Resilience is a systematic adaptation of the oppressed self under the arbitrary imposition of the political order. Emancipation is the liberation of the self from the oppressive imposition of the political order upon the self.

— Bruno De Oliveira

When fear rushed in, I learned how to hear my heart racing but refused to allow my feelings to sway me. That resilience came from my family. It flowed through our bloodline.

— Coretta Scott King

We rely upon the poets, the philosophers, and the playwrights to articulate what most of us can only feel, in joy and sorrow. They illuminate the thoughts for which we only grope; they give us the strength and balm we cannot find in ourselves. Whenever I feel my courage wavering I rush to them. They will give me the wisdom of acceptance, the will and resilience to push on.

— Helen Hayes

Let them play! The more they play, the more resilient and socially adept they will become.

— Jessica Joelle Alexander, The Danish Way of Parenting

Resist. Protect. Build resilience and strength. Push forward. Transform.
With others. We can’t do this alone.

— Jone Johnson Lewis

It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.

— L.R. Knost, Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.

— Maya Angelou

Like a wild animal, the soul is tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, and self-sufficient: it knows how to survive in hard places. I learned about these qualities during my bouts with depression. In that deadly darkness, the faculties I had always depended on collapsed. My intellect was useless; my emotions were dead; my will was impotent; my ego was shattered. But from time to time, deep in the thickets of my inner wilderness, I could sense the presence of something that knew how to stay alive even when the rest of me wanted to die. That something was my tough and tenacious soul.

— Parker J. Palmer

Suffering breaks our hearts, but the heart can break in two different ways. There’s the brittle heart that breaks into shards, shattering the one who suffers as it explodes, and sometimes taking others down when it’s thrown like a grenade at the ostensible source of its pain.
Then there’s the supple heart, the one that breaks open, not apart, the one that can grow into greater capacity for the many forms of love. Only the supple heart can hold suffering in a way that opens to new life.

— Parker J. Palmer, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old

Good luck is another name for tenacity of purpose.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson
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