Positivity Exercise Positivity To Become Resilient

I’m doing a check-in from the campus of Texas Christian University where I gave a talk which included a dialogue on how to go about each day with positivity -- especially when things don’t go quite according to plan. I’d like to share with you today how positivity relates to one of the other 7 Checkpoints along the Best Life Map...resilience.

I believe sometimes the temptation is to see people who are inexplicably positive or resilient and assume their lives or circumstances are perfect, or they have some certain innate -- and unattainable -- quality. My challenge to you, to myself and all of us here in the Best Life Map community is to not look at positivity as perfection.

If you’re checking in on positivity and resilience along your Best Life Map journey, then you know they are skills you can acquire and hone through practice. Like any of the 7 Checkpoints, you’ve learned the more you practice them...the more skillful you become at them. That’s good news, right? It is important to set an intention to be positive no matter what failures, challenges or disappointments may come {as they inevitably will}. It’s important to practice so, when you encounter those moments along your journey, you know you have the ability to respond with resilience and positivity.   

I want to share a story of a remarkable person, Louis Zamperini, subject of the best-selling book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption later made into a movie. He was the son of Italian immigrants, a record-breaking long distance runner, an Olympic athlete and a Veteran of World War II who survived being lost at sea for 47 days only to then survive two years as a prisoner of war. Now, it may be easy to assume he was one of those people who simply possessed something extraordinary to overcome so many unreal situations and hardships.

But, Louis was considered a troubled kid in high school...until he found running and developed his talent for it by taking it seriously and remaining committed. Little did he know how running would prepare him for all he would face in the future. He referred to his experiences of winning races as ones that taught him he could persevere to the end. It was like muscle memory for him -- he knew he had it within himself.

His story is one of incredible resilience. And, his story is even more powerful because of his unrelenting positivity. Laura Hillenbrand, author of Unbroken, spoke to this in her eulogy for him: “As he told of a war ordeal of profound suffering, in his voice there was no mournfulness, no self-pity, no bitterness, no anger. Instead, he was cheerful, buoyant, sparklingly witty. If anything defined Louie, it was that.  What made his life transcendent, what made it resonate in millions of hearts, was not the hardship he encountered, but the way in which he greeted it, how he turned it to joy, and what that told the rest of us about the potential that sleeps within ourselves.”

Yes Louis was resilient, yes he was a survivor. And it was because of how he survived and went on to live his life that he continues to inspire people. He didn’t allow bitterness to take up residence in his life. He didn’t allow bitterness to define him or become the point where his story ended. He spoke often to people -- mostly youth -- about love, imperfection, forgiveness and resilience. And, what shone through it all was his positivity. In 1998, Louis carried the Olympic torch en route to Nagano near the town where he’d spent two years as a POW. A place he’d revisited -- nearly five decades earlier -- to forgive the guards who’d tortured him.

I think Louis passed that torch onto you and me -- the torch of resilience and positivity, the torch of love and forgiveness. He wanted his story to stir up within other people the potential that lies within us. As Laura Hillenbrand said, he saw “his odyssey was a gift.”  

My wish for you is to see your own journey as a gift—with all its imperfections, challenges, failures or disappointments. My wish for you is to not make those speed bumps the destination point of your story. I’d love for you to comment below and share with me your story of resilience and how you persevered with positivity.

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