Resilience: Endurance with Direction

I have been re-reading a book I really enjoyed in the past titled, “Resilience”. It is written by former US Navy SEAL Eric Grietens. The premise of the book is that Grietens, upon returning from military duty in the Middle East, hears from a fellow Navy SEAL asking for help. The fellow SEAL has also returned from the Middle East and is struggling. Grietens and the fellow SEAL, who he calls Walker, begin writing letters and speaking on the phone where Grietens shares with Walker the essence of resilience.

My definition of resilience has always centered around the ability to rebound from a tough or difficult circumstances. Grietens defines resilience as, “the virtue that enables people to move through hardship and become better.”

Grietens goes on to explain that “resilience is the key to a well lived life. If you want happiness or success you need resilience.” It is easy to get caught in the mindset that you deserve a hardship-free life. Grietens makes it clear that resilient people move through hardship and are better, and happier because of it.

Where Does Courage Come From?

Many of us think that fear in the midst of the challenges we face is weakness and it often stops us from moving forward. Grietens paints the picture a little differently. “Every time we make a choice to confront our fear, our character evolves and we become more courageous.”

Author and mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey commented that, "Acting without fear is called recklessness. Acting with fear is called courage." The words I like in those two quotes are, “Choice” and “Acting”. When we make a choice to act, even when it is uncomfortable and perhaps frightening, we become more courageous and we become stronger.

Philosophy and Growing Through Pain

I guess it was my football player mentality that caused me to ignored Greek philosophy and the writing of the Stoics as I was growing up. You would think that would be the same for a Navy Seal too, but you would be wrong. Grietens covers BOTH the warrior and the philosopher in his writing by using references from Greek Mythology and other ancient writings to illustrate to Walker (and to all of us) what it takes to overcome the challenging circumstance we encounter and become better.

Don’t Expect a Struggle Free Life

There are many great lesson in this book, but one that meant a lot to me was, “Don’t expect a time in your life when you will be free of change, free of struggle, free from worry. To be resilient, you must understand that your objective in not to come to rest, because there is no rest. Your objective is to use what hits you to change your trajectory in a positive direction…Resilience is often endurance with direction.”