The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, loss, or significant sources of stress. These include family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. It means ‘bouncing back’ from difficult and trying experiences. This definition of resilience, as you can see, has two components. First, it acknowledges the reality that life contains its share of trouble, “adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, loss, and significant sources of stress.” Secondly, life also contains hope. We find it in this definition as it talks about the capacity of the human spirit to “adapt well” and “bounce back.”
Most of us get daily reminders of the fact that life is hard and even tragic at times. If we are not currently experiencing adversity ourselves, the daily news cycle regularly reminds us of the “adversity, trauma, tragedy, and threats” that are occurring somewhere in our world each day. If you are like me, it is easy to get overwhelmed by all of the bad news.
This is why we also need regular reminders that it is not only adversity that happens, but that resilience happens too! Adversity often gets more attention because it happens suddenly and is easy to report and document. Resilience happens instead much more slowly, one day, one decision at a time, and often takes years to become visible—long after the news cycle has moved on to the next story. The slow nature of resilience, however, does not make it any less real or powerful than the suddenness of adversity. So it is good for our spirits to be reminded of stories of resilience whenever we can.
Speaking of stories of resilience, this is why I am celebrating the Houston Astros winning the World Series this week. Just a few years ago the Astros experienced three consecutive seasons where they lost 100 games (out of a total of 162). This made them one of the worst teams in baseball at the time. Day by day though, over the last three to four years the team demonstrated what it means to “bounce back from difficult and trying experiences.” They worked hard in the front office, in the gyms and on the field. This theme of bouncing back is particularly appropriate for this team as their victory comes at a time when the city they represent is also working hard at coming back from the trauma caused by Hurricane Harvey. “Houston Strong” has become the city’s motto as it represents its resilient spirit, both as it applies to its recovery from the storm and the Astro’s climb out of the basement of the American League.
Baseball is of course just a game, an entertaining pastime for those of us who enjoy the sport. The Astro’s World Series victory doesn’t rebuild or repair the homes or the lives of people devastated by the hurricane. Hopefully, though, their victory does remind all of us that resilience happens and that it is every bit as real as adversity. I, for one, will always celebrate stories of resilience whenever they occur, whether in baseball, or in life.