In the Face of Adversity

The importance of resilience

On Being Flexible

Flexibility reflects one's emotional adjustment and maturity.

Flexibility is a primary factor in resilience and is reflective of an individual's emotional adjustment and maturity.  From the early studies in the fifties of what factors contribute to emotional health, flexibility has consistently been seen as one of the most important.  As indicated previously, it requires that an individual be flexible in both his or her thinking and his or her actions.

One of the main characters in Reaching Home is Special Agent Douglas Jennings.  In the story, Special Agent Jennings rolls over and looks at his watch.  It's 3:00 a.m.  Groaning as he pulls himself out of bed, he flips on the television and then begins throwing clothes in a battered, old leather two-suiter that, like him, has seen too many early morning flights.  He is being assigned to the investigation at Pine Grove, an accident at a nuclear reactor. Newscasters are speculating as to whether it is an act of terror.  He doubts it.  Jennings knows that the real act of terror is yet to come.  A terrorist cell in the Boston area is planning on carrying out what the Cold War Soviets had only schemed and dreamed of, unleashing a disease that could spread not just death, but panic across the U.S. in a matter of days.  Jennings has been working on the investigation, Project Outbreak, for a year.

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Jennings is a man who does what he is told. As the story unfolds, Jennings will be tested a number of times.  His inflexibility and rigidity, as well as his inability to deal with his own anger, will cost the lives of a number of his agents and almost destroy him.

Persistence in pursuit of a direction and a purpose must also be tempered with flexibility in thinking and action if one is to manage adversity and not be destroyed by it.

Ron Breazeale, Ph.D., is the author of Duct Tape Isn’t Enough: Survival Skills for the 21st Century as well as the novel Reaching Home.

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