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10 Factors to Bouncing Back Effectively

• Optimism
• Flexibility
• Core value system
• Faith
• Positive role models
• Social support
• Physical fitness
• Cognitive strength
• Facing fears
• Finding meaning in struggles


Why is it that two people facing the same tough situation can have such different responses? It comes down to resiliency, says Steven Southwick, a professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine and co-author of Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges.

“It’s not just a genetic thing that you have or you don’t,” Southwick says. “Resiliency is something anyone can learn. We hope to demystify the process.”

Southwick and his co-author, Dennis Charney, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, identified 10 factors shared by people who bounce back most effectively from traumas (see list).

“Out of those factors, if I had to pick, I’d say social support is one of the most important in developing resiliency,” says Southwick. “Knowing you have someone you can count on is essential.”

Another crucial piece: your outlook. “Pessimism is contagious,” says Southwick. “Optimism is an essential component to resiliency because it lets you filter out negative thoughts that do not accurately reflect the situation.”

With practice, people can teach themselves to bounce back faster. “Most people are much more resilient than they think,” says Southwick. “You just don’t know it until you’re put to the test.”

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