Becoming Resilient

I recently taught my six- and eight-year-olds how to play Nintendo Mario Kart, and I gave them some valuable lessons on how to be better and play the game well. One of those things I was teaching them was to look ahead on their screen and know the map and the road they’re on. You have to be able to see what’s ahead of you so that you can react or prepare for the upcoming turns in your path. They kept making a lot of jerking and swerving motions when they first started because they didn’t realize that you could see which way the map was going. This little fatherly interaction made me think about how much we tend to do that in our own lives. As we maneuver our way through life, it can be challenging to react to things we don’t expect. We often find ourselves planning for every move only to be constantly thwarted by the things we didn’t see coming. Those miscellaneous attacks that could be considered similar to the items the players throw at each other in Mario Kart are not insurmountable. When reflecting on my own life, I know that I have faced odds that seemed impossible to overcome, but only through eliminating them or, better yet, accepting them was I able to become who I am today.

As I’ve said in the past, we all hit roadblocks at different points in our life journey, and some people are blessed to go through life with a minimal amount of tragedy. One would hope that in their lives, those few people can give back to the less fortunate. When we face those frustrations or scenarios that weigh heavily on our minds, we must devise a plan to work through them no matter what they are. From a young age, we are trained to look at winning and losing, the former being positive and the latter somewhat negative. When we find obstacles in our path, we need to look at them the same way, do we want to win and overcome the obstacle, or do we want to lose and succumb to it? Personal tragedies are one of the critical roadblocks that we face in our lives. Many of us are blessed to have a family to rely on when facing such tragedies, but that is not always the case. In many instances, one must face personal tragedy alone, and in those cases, it is imperative that as a lone wolf, you have to be resilient. Even if that resilience is just for yourself and not for someone you care for, fighting through that conflict will only prepare you better for future trials.

As humans, we rely on our community to form us, and we’ve done so since the beginning of our existence. Our local communities could be comprised of many things, whether family, church, or work. The people we are around most often alter how we react to different things in our lives. These people have the ability to create either a healthy or toxic culture. One would hope that it is a positive culture created by that community. Only through this positive culture can one get stronger and react to hardship with the understanding that there will be a better outcome, even if it takes time.

Certain industries have recently become more impacted by the downturn in the economy. This has led to layoffs and some uncertainty about our country’s direction. Through a tight-knit community focused on a singular mission of success, we can even overcome those odds and maybe even end up with a better outlook. Not only do trials and hardships make us resilient they also tend to make us better people. Through those situations that we may have never thought would happen to us, we can understand society’s imperfections. The humility gained from the events we go through is not a teachable experience; instead, it must be learned through blood, sweat, and tears. Through those hardships, we also learn to be more empathetic toward others. Emotional intelligence is often overlooked as companies focus more on “what have you done” and “what can you do for me.” Robotic performance is not always an admirable trait; rather, our ability to interact with others and to listen before speaking is the greater need in society.

By planning out our lives in every detail or knowing every turn and curve on that Mario Kart map, we find ourselves still belabored by those attacks or scenarios we did not expect. Even when you are in first place in a Mario Kart race, there is the repeated chance that you will not be able to maneuver yourself out of an impregnable attack by the other players. Just as in life, we can never be too prepared for every obstacle, seen or unseen. The “wise” among us often give us direction, tell us how much to save each month for retirement, and how every perceived perfection of reality should be your goal. Even though so many of us never achieve that goal, it is still constantly fed to us. You need to strive for success at the turns you are at instead of attempting to succeed at a turn that’s still yet down the road. You will constantly regret trying to be perfect for something that is still too far in the future. What if I’m not a good dad or what if I’m not a good mom, says the young couple who has yet to give birth to their first child. Those questions plague the everyday person and make us overthink or tell ourselves that we’re inadequate. Resilience is often found more in defeat than in achievement.

We can look to many people in our lives who have shown resilience when facing what many might see as an unscalable hill. I’ve seen people in my life wade through unemployment with nary a hitch in their step, constantly focused on getting to the end and winning, no matter the cost. I’ve seen friends with families chase dreams and go to Law school while providing for a family, all while facing many challenges. Relatives and friends who have faced cancer and stared it down all while working and caring for a family. Battle buddies who were wounded in action and turned their lives around, all while fighting through the pain. We look at these people and do not envy them; we see them as unsung heroes who have come further in life than those who may seem to have it all. We do what we can to listen to them and replicate their strength while applying those methods to our battles. Remember not to take your life and good fortune for granted, and do not over-prepare, thinking you can escape any trial or hardship.

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