6 Tips for Becoming More Resilient

Some insights from Nietzsche’s thoughts.

Posted Jan 14, 2019

Resilience is defined as the psychological capacity to adapt to stressful circumstances and to bounce back from adverse events. Resilient individuals find a calling and dedicate themselves to what gives life purpose. The following describes some insights from Nietzsche on the best way to develop resilience. Nietzsche (1844-1900) was one of the most interesting thinkers of all time. In addition being a philosopher, he was also a psychologist (Kaufmann, 2013).

1.       Goal pursuit. Whether to maintain physical health or to perform well on an exam, goals form an integral part of daily life. Behavior is basically guided by goals. Nietzsche remarked that “set for yourself goals, high and noble goals, and perish in pursuit of them! I know of no better life purpose than to perish in pursuing the great and impossible” (Kaag, 2018). To stay committed, the ‘why’ of goal striving matters. As Nietzsche remarked, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” “Why” questions encourage long-term thinking or desirability of pursuing an action. An important reason for the failure in goal pursuit is attributed to poorly defined and ambiguous goals. Poorly defined goals may lead to the formation of weak intentions to realize the goal and to subsequent procrastination.

2.       Challenge assumption. Nietzsche said that the key to problem-solving is to search for hidden assumptions rather than a search for solutions. These hidden assumptions provide a clue to the mental make-up of the decision maker. Truthfulness is a core value for Nietzsche. Convictions are prisons. Great leaders are skeptics. This is perhaps a true definition of self-confidence: the ability to look at the world without the need to look for instances that pleases one’s ego. One should consider many perspectives to avoid being imprisoned by one’s thought. No single perspective reveals the entire truth. Similarly, traditional beliefs should be subjected to ever new probing in light of new experiences and ideas.

3.       The will to power. The will to power is the foundation of Nietzsche’s philosophy. Power means as the will to overcome oneself (the development of self-control strength). It is the overcoming of weakness or dependence. Thus, power is a state of mind, not wealth and military power, or the domination of others. The achievement of independence is the source of pleasure. Someone who conquers himself, he uses his power to achieve his own potential. Weakness is dangerous for human character. A weak person tends to find scapegoats or to find somebody upon whom they can look down in order to feel superior. Self-mastery is the highest degree of power.   

4.       The power of human reason. Nietzsche challenges us to have the courage to be different and independent. The powerful is the rational person who subjects even his most cherished beliefs to the rigors of rationality and revises those beliefs in the light of new evidence. Reason is the highest indicator of the will to power. It helps to develop foresight and to give consideration to all the impulses.

5.       Growth through suffering. Nietzsche famously said, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ For instance, post-traumatic growth is a phenomenon by which people suffered from past events surpass themselves. In the aftermath of major life struggles, where fundamental assumptions are seriously confronted, can lead to positive psychological change or post-traumatic growth (Terdeschi and Calhoun, 2004). This explains why overprotective parents trying to help their children are often hurting them the most.

6.       Living a meaningful life. The good life is the powerful life, the life of those who are in full control of their impulses. Nietzsche proposed that men feel a life devoted to the pursuit of self-overcoming to be a more satisfactory human life than a life devoted to the pursuit of pleasure.  The feeling of pleasure is a byproduct of striving to overcome and transcend oneself. To meet a challenge one must  develop a strength greater than that which one had previously. For example, the acorn gives its existence to become an oak tree and thus to become more powerful. And this involves its ceasing to be an acorn.

References

Kaag, J John (2018), Hiking with Nietzsche: On Becoming Who You Are . Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Kaufmann Walter (2913), Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, Princeton University Press; Revised ed. Edition

Tedeschi RG, Calhoun LG (2004), Posttraumatic growth: conceptual foundations and empirical evidence. Psych Inquiry, 15(1-18).