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3 secrets of resilient people

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    So I'd like to start, if I may,
    by asking you some questions.
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    If you've ever lost someone
    you truly love,
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    ever had your heart broken,
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    ever struggled through
    an acrimonious divorce,
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    or been the victim of infidelity,
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    please stand up.
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    If standing up isn't accessible to you,
    you can put your hand up.
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    Please, stay standing,
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    and keep your hand up there.
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    If you've ever lived
    through a natural disaster,
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    been bullied or been made redundant,
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    stand on up.
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    If you've ever had a miscarriage,
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    if you've ever had an abortion
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    or struggled through infertility,
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    please stand up.
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    Finally, if you, or anyone you love,
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    has had to cope
    with mental illness, dementia,
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    some form of physical impairment,
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    or cope with suicide,
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    please stand up.
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    Look around you.
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    Adversity doesn't discriminate.
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    If you are alive,
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    you are going to have to,
    or you've already had to,
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    deal with some tough times.
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    Thank you, everyone, take a seat.
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    I started studying
    resilience research a decade ago,
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    at the University
    of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
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    It was an amazing time to be there,
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    because the professors who trained me
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    had just picked up the contract
    to train all 1.1 million American soldiers
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    to be as mentally fit
    as they always have been physically fit.
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    As you can imagine,
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    you don't get a much more skeptical
    discerning audience
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    than the American drill sergeants
    returning from Afganistan.
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    So for someone like me,
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    whose main quest in life
    is trying to work out
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    how we take the best
    of scientific findings out of academia
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    and bring them to people
    in their everyday lives,
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    it was a pretty inspiring place to be.
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    I finished my studies in America,
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    and I returned home here to Christchurch
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    to start my doctoral research.
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    I'd just begun that study
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    when the Christchurch earthquakes hit.
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    So I put my research on hold,
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    and I started working
    with my home community
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    to help them through that terrible
    post-quake period.
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    I worked with all sorts of organizations
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    from government departments
    to building companies,
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    and all sorts of community groups,
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    teaching them the ways
    of thinking and acting
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    that we know boost resilience.
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    I thought that was my calling.
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    My moment to put all
    of that research to good use.
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    But sadly, I was wrong.
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    For my own true test came in 2014
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    on Queen's Birthday weekend.
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    We and two other families had decided
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    to go down to Lake Ohau
    and bike the outs to ocean.
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    At the last minute,
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    my beautiful 12-year-old daughter Abi
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    decided to hop in the car
    with her best friend, Ella, also 12,
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    and Ella's mom, Sally,
    a dear, dear friend of mine.
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    On the way down,
    as they traveled through Rakaia
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    on Thompsons Track,
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    a car sped through a stop sign,
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    crashing into them
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    and killing all three of them instantly.
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    In the blink of an eye,
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    I find myself flung
    to the other side of the equation,
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    waking up with a whole new identity.
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    Instead of being the resilience expert,
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    suddenly, I'm the grieving mother.
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    Waking up not knowing who I am,
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    trying to wrap my head
    around unthinkable news,
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    my world smashed to smithereens.
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    Suddenly, I'm the one on the end
    of all this expert advice.
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    And I can tell you,
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    I didn't like what I heard one little bit.
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    In the days after Abi died,
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    we were told we were now
    prime candidates for family estrangement.
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    That we were likely to get divorced
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    and we were at high risk
    of mental illness.
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    "Wow," I remember thinking,
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    "Thanks for that, I though
    my life was already pretty shit."
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    (Laughter)
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    Leaflets described
    the five stages of grief:
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    anger, bargaining, denial,
    depression, acceptance.
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    Victim support arrived at our door
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    and told us that we could expect
    to write off the next five years to grief.
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    I know the leaflets
    and the resources meant well.
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    But in all of that advice,
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    they left us feeling like victims.
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    Totally overwhelmed by the journey ahead,
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    and powerless to exert any influence
    over our grieving whatsoever.
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    I didn't need to be told
    how bad things were.
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    Believe me, I already knew
    things were truly terrible.
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    What I needed most was hope.
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    I needed a journey
    through all that anguish,
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    pain and longing.
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    Most of all,
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    I wanted to be an active participant
    in my grief process.
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    So I decided to turn my back
    on their advice
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    and decided instead to conduct
    something of a self-experiment.
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    I'd done the research, I had the tools,
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    I wanted to know how useful
    they would be to me now
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    in the face of such an enormous
    mountain to climb.
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    Now, I have to confess at this point,
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    I didn't really know
    that any of this was going to work.
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    Parental bereavement
    is widely acknowledged
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    as the hardest of losses to bear.
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    But I can tell you now, five years on,
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    what I already knew from the research.
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    That you can rise up from adversity,
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    that there are strategies that work,
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    that it is utterly possible
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    to make yourself think
    and act in certain ways
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    that help you navigate tough times.
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    There is a monumental body of research
    on how to do this stuff.
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    Today, I'm just going to share
    with you three strategies.
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    These are my go-to strategies
    that I relied upon
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    and saved me in my darkest days.
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    They're three strategies
    that underpin all of my work,
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    and they're pretty readily
    available to us all,
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    anyone can learn them,
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    you can learn them right here today.
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    So number one,
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    resilient people get that shit happens.
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    They know that suffering is part of life.
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    This doesn't mean
    they actually welcome it in,
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    they're not actually delusional.
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    Just that when the tough times come,
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    they seem to know
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    that suffering is part
    of every human existence.
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    And knowing this stops you
    from feeling discriminated against
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    when the tough times come.
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    Never once did I find myself thinking,
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    "Why me?"
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    In fact, I remember thinking,
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    "Why not me?
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    Terrible things happen to you,
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    just like they do everybody else.
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    That's your life now,
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    time to sink or swim."
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    The real tragedy
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    is that not enough of us
    seem to know this any longer.
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    We seem to live in an age
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    where we're entitled to a perfect life,
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    where shiny, happy photos
    on Instagram are the norm,
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    when actually,
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    as you all demonstrated
    at the start of my talk,
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    the very opposite is true.
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    Number two,
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    resilient people
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    are really good at choosing carefully
    where they select their attention.
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    They have a habit of realistically
    appraising situations,
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    and typically, managing to focus
    on the things that they can change,
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    and somehow accept
    the things that they can't.
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    This is a vital, learnable
    skill for resilience.
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    As humans, we are really good
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    at noticing threats and weaknesses.
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    We are hardwired for that negative.
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    We're really, really good
    at noticing them.
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    Negative emotions stick to us like Velcro,
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    whereas positive emotions and experiences
    seems to bounce off like Teflon.
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    Being wired in this way
    is actually really good for us,
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    and served us well
    from an evolutionary perspective.
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    So imagine for a moment I'm a cavewoman,
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    and I'm coming out
    of my cave in the morning,
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    and there's a saber-toothed
    tiger on one side
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    and a beautiful rainbow on the other.
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    It kind of pays for my survival
    for me to notice this tiger.
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    The problem is,
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    we now live in an era
    where we are constantly bombarded
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    by threats all day long,
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    and our poor brains treat
    every single one of those threats
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    as though they were a tiger.
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    Our threat focus, our stress response,
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    is permanently dialed up.
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    Resilient people
    don't diminish the negative,
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    but they also have worked out a way
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    of tuning into the good.
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    One day, when doubts
    were threatening to overwhelm me,
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    I distinctly remember thinking,
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    "No, you do not get
    to get swallowed up by this.
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    You have to survive.
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    You've got so much to live for.
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    Choose life, not death.
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    Don't lose what you have
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    to what you have lost."
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    In psychology,
    we call this benefit finding.
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    In my brave new world,
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    it involved trying to find things
    to be grateful for.
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    At least our wee girl
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    hadn't died of some terrible,
    long, drawn-out illness.
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    She died suddenly, instantly,
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    sparing us and her that pain.
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    We had a huge amount of social support
    from family and friends
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    to help us through.
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    And most of all,
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    we still had two beautiful
    boys to live for,
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    who needed us now,
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    and deserved to have as normal a life
    as we could possibly give them.
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    Being able to switch the focus
    of your attention
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    to also include the good
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    has been shown by science
    to be a really powerful strategy.
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    So in 2005, Martin Seligman and colleagues
    conducted an experiment.
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    And they asked people,
    all they asked people to do,
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    was think of three good things
    that had happened to them each day.
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    What they found, over the six months
    course of this study,
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    was that those people
    showed higher levels of gratitude,
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    higher levels of happiness
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    and less depression
    over the course of the six-month study.
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    When you're going through grief,
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    you might need a reminder,
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    or you might need permission
    to feel grateful.
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    In our kitchen, we've got
    a bright pink neon poster
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    that reminds us to "accept" the good.
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    In the American army,
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    they framed it a little bit differently.
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    They talked to the army
    about hunting the good stuff.
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    Find the language that works for you,
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    but whatever you do,
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    make an intentional,
    deliberate, ongoing effort
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    to tune into what's good in your world.
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    Number three,
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    resilient people ask themselves,
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    "Is what I'm doing helping or harming me?"
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    This is a question that's used
    a lot in good therapy.
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    And boy, is it powerful.
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    This was my go-to question
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    in the days after the girls died.
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    I would ask it again and again.
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    "Should I go to the trial
    and see the driver?
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    Would that help me or would it harm me?"
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    Well, that was a no-brainer for me,
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    I chose to stay away.
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    But Trevor, my husband,
    decided to meet with the driver
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    at a later time.
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    Late at night, I'd find myself sometimes
    poring over old photos of Abi,
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    getting more and more upset.
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    I'd ask myself,
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    "Really? Is this helping you
    or is it harming you?
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    Put away the photos,
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    go to bed for the night,
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    be kind to yourself."
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    This question can be applied
    to so many different contexts.
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    Is the way I'm thinking and acting
    helping or harming you,
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    in your bid to get that promotion,
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    to pass that exam,
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    to recover from a heart attack?
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    So many different ways.
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    I write a lot about resilience,
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    and over the years, this one strategy
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    has prompted more positive
    feedback than any other.
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    I get scores of letters
    and emails and things
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    from all over the place of people saying
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    what a huge impact
    it's had on their lives.
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    Whether it is forgiving family
    ancient transgressions, arguments
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    from Christmases past,
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    or whether it is just
    trolling through social media,
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    whether it is asking yourself
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    whether you really need
    that extra glass of wine.
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    Asking yourself whether what you're doing,
    the way you're thinking,
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    the way you're acting
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    is helping or harming you,
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    puts you back in the driver's seat.
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    It gives you some control
    over your decision-making.
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    Three strategies.
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    Pretty simple.
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    They're readily available to us all,
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    anytime, anywhere.
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    They don't require rocket science.
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    Resilience isn't some fixed trait.
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    It's not elusive,
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    that some people have
    and some people don't.
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    It actually requires
    very ordinary processes.
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    Just the willingness to give them a go.
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    I think we all have moments in life
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    where our life path splits
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    and the journey we thought
    we were going down
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    veers off to some terrible direction
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    that we never anticipated,
  • 14:54 - 14:57
    and we certainly didn't want.
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    It happened to me.
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    It was awful beyond imagining.
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    If you ever find yourselves
    in a situation where you think
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    "There's no way
    I'm coming back from this,"
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    I urge you to lean into these strategies
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    and think again.
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    I won't pretend
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    that thinking this way is easy.
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    And it doesn't remove all the pain.
  • 15:26 - 15:30
    But if I've learned anything
    over the last five years,
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    it is that thinking this way
    really does help.
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    More than anything,
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    it has shown me that it is possible
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    to live and grieve at the same time.
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    And for that, I would be always grateful.
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    Thank you.
  • 15:49 - 15:52
    (Applause)
Title:
3 secrets of resilient people
Speaker:
Lucy Hone
Description:

Everyone experiences loss, but how do you cope with the tough moments that follow? Resilience researcher Lucy Hone shares three hard-won strategies for developing the capacity to brave adversity, overcome struggle and face whatever may come head-on with fortitude and grace.

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Video Language:
English
Team:
TED
Project:
TEDTalks
Duration:
16:05
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  • 3:06 might be a famous bike trail:
    to go down to Lake Ohau
    and bike the Alps 2 Ocean.

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