Deborah Khoshaba Psy.D.

Get Hardy

The Courage to Grow from Stress

Hardiness for Turbulent Times.

Posted Dec 02, 2011

Our turbulent times require us to be resilient so that we can face the disruptive changes going on in our lives and in the world with courage, integrity and grace.

The Nature of Living is Stressful

Living is stressful, no matter how hard times are in the world. After all, what it means to interact with people, events, cultural rules and regulations, the daily responsibilities in our lives, and to develop in the process, involves continually interacting with changes and disruptions.

We go from lying in cribs, to crawling, to holding onto objects to get around, until we learn to stand up on our own. Then, we go to school, interact with other people, and attend to rules and regulations outside of our homes, to forming our place in the world as adults, where we have to learn how to live with other people in the world. And, this is just the developmental aspect of stress of which humans have to contend.

Now, consider the stresses going on in the world around us, and you realize how stressful living really is.The good news is that for thousands of years, human beings have shown that they are able to turn stressful situations to their living advantage. Ancient Rome was built through sheer imagination and toughness of spirit.

Through hardiness, come back after adversity.

Hardiness gives you this toughness; it gives you the courage to grow from stress.Hardiness is a personality style of dealing with problems. It begins as a mindset made up of the attitudes of commitment, control and challenge and the complementary skills of coping and social support.

If you are hardy, you express these attitudes and skills on an everyday basis, no matter what's happening in your life. Over thirty years of research and practice show the importance of personality hardiness to our performance, health, and conduct (www.hardinessinstitute.com). Some people are more naturally hardy than others, but the good news is that you can learn to become hardier.

The HardiAttitudes are the 3 C's of Commitment, Control and Challenge.

Commitment: To be strong in commitment means believing that being involved with tasks, people, and contexts is the best way to find meaningful purpose in life.You will be infinitely curious about what is going on around you, and this will lead you to find interactions with people and situations stimulating and meaningful. Feeling alienated and isolated will seem like a waste of time.

Control: To be strong in control involves believing that, through personal struggle, you can usually influence the directions and outcomes going on around you. Lapsing into powerlessness and passivity will seem like a waste of time.

Challenge: To be strong in challenge means believing that personal improvement and fulfillment come through the continual process of learning from both negative and positive experiences. It will seem not only unrealistic but also stultifying to simply expect comfort and security to be handed to you.

Together, the HardiAttitudes put you into a coping mindset that motivates you to transform the stressors you have into opportunities for new learning, growth, and living the best life possible.

Koya Takahashi, 28, and his wife, Megumi, 27, hold their 3-month-old son, Nagato, outside Megumi's parents' home in Minamisanrik

Take for example what Japanese parents had to contend with post the Tsunami that tore apart their lives. They had to carry on with the daily responsibility of parenting, no matter that their lives have been torn apart.

Koya and Megumi Takahashi had to cope with no home and income to survive, moving in with in-laws, radiation concerns, stress of their children, contaminated water supply, as well a baby on the way. And, so many others, like Kumiko Takahashi, unrelated to Koya and Megumi, had to take work for much less pay to help their families to survive.

Despite these unimaginable stressors, Koya and Megumi "feel lucky to have a safe place for their baby at the home of Megumi's parents, which is on a hill away from the devastation." In this rural town, it is "possible to feel hopeful, both for themselves and their young son." "The city is still destroyed and we have worries, but now we have a baby," to worry about. Megumi says,  "My will is strong. I am quite positive" (http://worldblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/06/14/6856581-post-tsunami-par... ).

The Takahashi's exemplify a posture of hardiness toward their troubles.Through the belief that they are important and worthwhile enough to survive (hardy attitude of commitment) they were able to find meaning and hope in all that had happened (hardy attitude of challenge). Moreover, they did what they had to do to suvive, like working for less pay, living with relatives, and anything else that was needed to make it through (hardy attitude of control).

The Takahashi's show us that there is always a perspective to be found that helps us to start to solve our problems proactively. Sometimes a downward turn in our life can feel so catastrophic that we can't imagine there's a way out of it, or even something good that we can find that will give us enough strength to do what we have to do to move forward.

The survivors of the Japanese Tsunami show us some important basic facts about human nature, no matter a person's country of origin, culture or race.

  1. The will to survive, to live is so much stronger than the will to give up.
  2. No matter how much is taken away from us, there is always something important and worthwhile enough for us to keep going (commitment).
  3. We possess or can develop the resources to find our way back to life once again (control).
  4. Personality hardiness is necessary to live more fully by solving problems.

If you enjoyed my article today, please say so by selecting the Like icon that immediately follows. I look forward to writing more posts on hardiness and resilience, so that you learn how to turn your problems into opportunities to grow and to get more fulfillment from living.

Warmly, Deborah!

About the Author

Deborah Khoshaba, Psy.D., is a Clinical Psychologist and Director of Training and Development for the Hardiness Institute, Inc., Irvine, California, since 1989.

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