Resilience researchers ask why some people handle adversity better than others and go on to lead normal lives despite negative life experiences while others get de-railed by them.

After years of study, they pretty much figured out that the old guys had the right of it:  You need to stay positive.  You need to have a good crew at your back.


This YouTube video from Big Think, “Resilience Lessons from Our Veterans” features psychiatrist Dennis Charney, the Dean of the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine discusses his book, RESILIENCE:  The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges, which he wrote with Steven Southwick, who is the Professor of Psychiatry, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Resilience at Yale Medical School.

According to the good doctors, the right kind of optimism as well as a strong support network are key factors in developing resilience.


International bestselling author Paul McGee wrote HOW TO SUCCEED WITH PEOPLE:  Remarkably Easy Ways to Engage, Influence and Motivate Almost Anyone.  He did a series of remarkably satisfying podcasts published by Capstone Publishing in 2013 with riffs taken from his book.  Here’s the one about being resilient….


Emily Esfahani Smith, in her book, THE POWER OF MEANING:  Crafting a Life That Matters, pulls together a whole body of information about resilience and gives some insight into the characteristics of resilient people and how they keep on bouncing back.

She tells us that resilient people have the following assets in their set of character traits:

  • Purpose and a worthy goal
  • A moral compass that’s tied to altruism or selflessly serving others
  • Social support
  • Spirituality (which could be defined as a “source of strength and power that is greater than yourself”).
  • A natural inclination to continue on through adversity.

According to most resilience researchers some people naturally resist adversity better than others.  Maybe it’s their genetic makeup.  Maybe their early life experiences predisposed them to this way of doing things.

But, Smith says, resilience is not a fixed trait.  Everyone can learn to adapt to stress more effectively by developing a set of psychological tools to help them cope with stressful events.

She points out three successful mindsets and strategies that center on finding meaning in the everyday that work:

OPPORTUNITY MINDSET.  If you can see a stressful situation as a challenge and not as a threat, you are more likely to just keep on keeping on.

“IT’S NORMAL” MINDSET.  If you can see the difficulties and obstacles in front of you as a natural part of how the world works, then you free yourself from stressing about how it’s all because YOU are not-this or YOU are not-that and YOU don’t belong  and YOU are not-supposed-to…and the rest of that garbage.

This mindset can set your mind free from the uncertainties about “belonging” and the doubts that rise up when you’re doing something that is not what the people you want to impress would do.   It allows you to just keep going.

“KEEP YOUR FOCUS ON THE JOB” MINDSET.  If you focus on how doing what you’re doing can help you and others live out self-transcendent values (rather than focusing on how to promote your own self and your own agenda), it’s easier to keep on moving forward.

Smith believes that keeping the life values that are important to you firmly in mind helps to protect you from the damage that stressing over some outcome or other can do.

“Cahill Craziness” by Helen Taylor via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]


All of the foregoing stuff gets me to thinking about what the old guys called “gumption.”

Merriam-Webster says “gumption” showed up in the early 1700’s as a word.  Its earliest uses referred to “intelligence” and “energy”.  By the 1860’s Americans were using the word to imply “ambition” and “tenacity.”  It has since evolved into a synonym for “courage” and “get-up-and-go.”

Bouncing back requires all of that.  It’s good to know that they can be developed, they can evolve and they can grow.


Sunrise Over Maui by Rose Braverman Molokai Hawaii via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that the thing you absolutely cannot lose is your gumption.  [Nothing is sadder than somebody whose gumption got up and went.  Hang on to that gumption!]

Here’s one more YouTube video, “Resilience:  Hard Times Motivation” published by Eric Thomas and the Marshall Training Systems guys:


And here’s a poem:


There you are,

A bit shaky still as you stagger up the beach

Out of the foam.

Life took you and tossed you

Over the falls…again,

But you made it through that maelstrom

More or less intact.


There you are, still standing,

Dripping wet and breathing hard.

The pounding’s rubbed you ragged,

But you’re in one piece and you’re moving.

Wobbly as you are,

You’ll be reaching for your board again,

Looking for the next wave,

“Spahking-out” the next ride.



Good one, brah!

Mebbe nex’ time you goin’ get ’em!

You go!

by Netta Kanoho

Header Picture credit:  “Engulfed” by Nathan Rupert via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]



(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you….)


Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts….














20 thoughts on “BOUNCING BACK

  1. Very interesting article and some really good points. One point you did mention which I completely agree with, is to see any situation as just being normal. This strips away the concern about whether something is easy or hard and should encourage more people to just push on and do what needs to be done. You are never going to achieve anything if you keep creating barriers for yourself.

    1. Hey Daniel:

      Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  “You are never going to achieve anything if you keep creating barriers for yourself.”  Uh-huh… 

      I do appreciate your taking the time.  Please do come again.

  2. I really like your life built poems site. This article about bouncing back with the videos to support your perspective was great and made me think about my own life and the decisions I’ve made that turned me into someone who wasn’t able to bounce back very easily after spiraling downward into an abyss of worthlessness.

    Then you added an original poem to “drop the mic” as it were. I enjoyed the article. Thank you for sharing!

    Mike Jay

    1. Hey Mike Jay:

      Thanks for the visit.  I appreciate your comments.  Please do come again!

  3. I must say that I enjoyed reading this awesome and motivational article. We live in such hard time today and it people are getting more and more stressful which leads to even more disaster. Obstacles are everywhere and always will be but we must learn how to fight with that. Thank you for this instructive article.

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Daniel.  I do appreciate it.  

      Please do come again….

  4. Ellie Strand, MSN RN APRN (Ret.) says:

    Netta, I love your site!

    It’s clear you have been “walking the walk and talking the talk” for many years. It’s also clear that you have a mindset and a heart that many aspire to and not many reach. Your entire site is uplifting and informative. 

    I was fortunate to visit Oahu in 2008 when my daughter was stationed there. She practically had to drag me kicking and screaming onto the plane leaving for the mainland. 😉 For months I dreamed of making my life in Hawaii. Sadly, my health precludes another visit but I will always have fond memories of the people I met there.

    Much of the sentiment and approach to life I read on this site is similar to Buddhist thinking. May I ask if you are one or is this a manifestation of the Hawaiian gestalt I so admire?

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Ellie.  I do appreciate it.

      I’m glad you were able to come and visit Hawaii and made good memories here.

      My spiritual inclinations are more Tao-ish than anything else.  I’m noticing that the Taoist, Buddhist and native ways of walking do seem to have a lot in common.

      Please do come again….

  5. It is sheer coincidence that I landed on your site trying to search something else in Google.Your perspective has always been unique and your points are very thought provoking. I fully agree with your point that the best way to come out of an adverse situation is to remain positive come what may and find an opportunity to convert the situation to your advantage. 

    Great job Netta! Keep bringing light to darkness!

    1. Thanks for your visit and for your kind words, GeeEss.  I do appreciate it.

      Please do come again….

  6. Though it took me a while, I finally learned to stop sweating it over things that were beyond my control, or thinking maybe there was something wrong with me. I now focus that energy on building my strong points. To achieve this I had to work on my mindset

    This article is encouraging and I enjoyed going through it (Coming from someone who hard to be toughened by life’s situations and still standing). Thank you for this piece.

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, eohia.  I do appreciate it.

      I, too, had to resign from being the General Manager of the Universe.  ‘Course, there are days when I forget again. (Sigh!)  Oh well…we keep on walkin’.

      Please do come again.

  7. Goldroad (jay) says:

    Bouncing Back is something every person endures in life.  Even with modern conveniences in life we have trials and tribulations.  

    This article does a nice job of explaining what it takes to bounce back from a book review perspective, has a nice opinion that you summarize about gumption, and finishes with a wonderful motivational video and clever poem on the subject.  Well done.  


    1. Jay, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate it.

      Please do come again.

  8. Hi! I like the IPS! I feel like it is so powerful and yes it is so true. 

    But do we ever realise when we got our gumption? Maybe yes, maybe no. Or maybe we never sure what we actually had. 

    And yet, the poem is very linked to the article, powerful and alive.

    1. Lana, thanks for your visit.  Good question, that!  

      “Do we realize when we’ve got our gumption?”  Hmmm….

      I think maybe our gumption just is there — or not.  We can build it up and use it to do more and more.  We can lose it as well and sometimes it comes back (or not).

      I’ve got a friend who got really broken in his life.  He has NO gumption and he’s fine with that.  He got into a situation that was very high-risk and he lost big-time.  He still hasn’t recovered, many years afterwards, and maybe he never will.  

      It’s okay, though.  He’s a darling man and very sweet and gentle in his dealings with other people.  And maybe that is the lesson he needed to learn.  I don’t know.  

      Please do come again.

  9. What makes your life meaningful is how well you attach value to it.  I ascribe a lot of belief to my mind, that is whatever I make up my mind to, and so it is what I’ll do. 

    It’s normal for is to face challenges and fall down.  What makes us feel better is getting right back up and keeping on trying. Thanks for this amazing words.

    1. Bruce, thank you for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do agree with you.  It isn’t the fact that you fall that’s important.  What IS important is that you stand up again…at least one time more than you fall.  (Hee!)

      Please do come again.

  10. LineCowley says:

    Hi there, Oh I do like your poem at the end of the post, and specially “looking for the next wave”, as it seems that is where my life is at the moment. 

    To be resilient is the ideal position, as that will allow you to bounce back, and also to pivot when it is needed. Thank you for your inspirational and motivational post. 

    All the best. Liné

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Liné.  I do agree that resilience is a good thing to cultivate in yourself.  Life can get really wonky sometimes.  There are always lots of opportunities to shake, rattle and roll.  

      Bounce on!

      And please do come again….

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