Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges,
Steven M. Southwick, MD, and Dennis S. Charney, MD
Books about resilience often focus largely on positive thinking and self-confidence. Resilience does require both but that approach does not appeal to everyone. Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges provides an alternative.
The authors, Steven M. Southwick and Dennis S. Charney, are psychiatrists who are authorities in the field of post-traumatic stress disorder. Like Laurence Gonzales,
they interviewed a number of people that have persevered after suffering extreme trauma: Army Special Forces members, former Vietnam prisoners-of-war, survivors of a land mine explosion and of attempted murder.
Through their interviews, Southwick and Charney uncovered ten common habits which we summarize below. Most interestingly, the authors distinguish their book by grounding their observations in physiology. Each chapter is devoted to one way of recovering from stress and trauma and includes neurobiological evidence in support of that method. Relevant scientific research is duly cited but our readers need not shy away. Resilience remains a slim, readable book, with plenty of vignettes. It was a joy to read.
Evidence shows that most people experience some trauma but can train themselves to overcome life’s challenges and even thrive. Here are Southwick and Charney’s ten recommendations for building and sustaining resilience:
- Be optimistic
- Face your fears
- Trust your moral compass, ethics and altruistic dispositions
- Lean on your religious and spiritual convictions
- Give and receive social support
- Have good role models
- Build physical fitness
- Cultivate mental fitness
- Develop cognitive and emotional flexibility
- Find meaning, purpose and growth in your life.
Drs. Steven M. Southwick and Dennis S. Charney can be found at resilienceinus.com