Resilience is important when dealing with change. Change happens all the time. Dealing with change effectively is a key component for retirement happiness.
Every day of your life brings change. Sometimes the change is subtle; it may be a small event like wearing a new shoes or eating a new food or meeting someone you knew in the past. Sometimes its a big change — like retirement, a new job, a move to a new home, a marriage, a birth, or a divorce.
Sometimes it’s a catastrophic change involving trauma, sickness or death. Such life events create uncertainty and stress. Natural reactions include strong emotions including sadness, anger, and fear.
Change is never easy. Even positive life events cause emotional reactions that may create stress.
Websters dictionary defines resilience as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”.
Definitions found online refer to resilience as the ability to regain control from difficult conditions, to withstand the stress involved, and to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma or tragedy.
Change can be positive or negative. Learning to cope with change is the key to developing resilience.
Most people think of resilience as it applies to coping with adverse, or negative, situations that often involve loss. However, coping with positive change can also be stressful.
Resilient Approaches to Change
“Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.” — Ernest Hemingway
This quote from Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea encourages the expectation of change. When we expect that today will be different from yesterday and tomorrow will be different from today we are better prepared to ‘roll with the punches’ and to employ flexible approaches to dealing with change.
Support networks are essential for resilience. Family members and friends who provide understanding, love, and encouragement are invaluable when facing a life-changing event. Like me, you may value privacy and self-sufficiency, but there are times when leaning on others restores equilibrium.
A positive attitude builds resilience. An optimistic attitude that focuses on problem solving skills enables you to face adversity and cope with change. Taking control of your reaction to any life event is a positive action. It can be the first step in seeing opportunity even when negative changes occur. Remember, it starts with you!
If you take responsibility for your actions and feelings, you develop an attitude that helps you understand what is happening around you. The strong feelings that come from a major change can derail anyone; when you control how you are feeling, confidence builds and you are able to deal with even difficult situations.
At the end of each practice, my yoga teacher makes reference to the importance of mindfulness. It’s a reminder to savour the moment without expecting that it will return. I appreciate her subtle coaching most of all when I’m feeling overwhelmed. At those times, I try to breathe deeply and focus on what’s important in that moment without thinking about what I’ll need to finish in the next hour, day, or week.
How Resilience Affects Retirement Happiness
Many of our friends have spent huge amounts of time and money trying to craft the ideal retirement. They have renovated their homes for accessibility, down-sized, or moved to retirement communities with the expectation that they will be protected from some of the life events that create stress. They have carefully managed their finances to ensure that they won’t run out of money. They keep a healthy lifestyle controlling diet, exercise and sleep.
I worry that they have forgotten that changes will continue to affect them regardless of all this preparation. Nobody can insulate themselves completely from the difficulties and pleasures of life. As well as planning for the instrumental aspects of retirement, I hope they have taken responsibility for their attitudes about change, have developed good support networks, and have learned how to ‘roll with the punches’ that life will surely bring.
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