It Started with Two Scones - The Importance of Personal Resiliency
My father was born in Boston in 1932 to Irish parents, and was raised in a house with 5 siblings, an aunt and grandmother. During World War II, his older brother served in the pacific, his father worked as a Boston policeman and his sisters worked in factories in support of the war effort. He described to me how his grandmother had a keen sense of when he was becoming overwhelmed by the circumstances around him, and that she would address this by inviting him to sit down with her for a scone and some tea. And then they would talk – sometimes about little things, like the right amount of butter to put on a scone, and sometimes about more serious things, like what would happen if his brother’s ship was bombed or the war never ended. He talked, she listened, and they both ate and were simply present in the moment, connected to each other. While my father would say that time in his life was difficult, stressful and uncertain, he also wanted to share that what his grandmother did for him, in those quiet moments of listening, acknowledgment and understanding, was to give him a powerful tool in building personal resiliency; a tool he would employ throughout his life.
To survive and function in a high pressure environment, we need to be resilient, and building personal resiliency takes effort and attention to who we are.
Take a personal inventory on the dimensions in this graph – What are you doing well? What do you feel good about? What do you need to improve? What steps can you take towards improvement?
My father was taught by his grandmother the importance of being present in the moment and tending to relationships. Another aspect of building resiliency is the importance of laughter, and importantly, the ability to employ humor in stressful situations. A study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people who can access humor in the midst of stress, have a higher level of resilience. To quote Abraham Lincoln, "Gentlemen, why don't you laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me day and night, if I did not laugh I should die, and you need this medicine as much as I do." With that in mind, I end on this note: