Self Help

The Resilience Workbook Essential Skills - Glenn R. Schiraldi

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 57 min read
  • Resilience is the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. It involves “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.

  • The reviews praise Schiraldi’s The Resilience Workbook as an authoritative and practical guide to developing and maintaining resilience.

  • The book provides a comprehensive overview of strategies for building resilience, including regulating arousal, challenging negative thoughts, practicing mindfulness and self-compassion, expressive writing, and managing distressing dreams.

  • The book also covers strategies for increasing happiness and positivity, such as cultivating gratitude, self-esteem, optimism, altruism, humor, moral strength, meaning, social intelligence, and forgiveness.

  • The book details strategies for peak functioning and adaptive coping, including active coping, confidence, flexibility, and creativity. It provides guidance on early treatment readiness.

  • The reviews describe the book as clearly authoritative, comprehensive yet accessible, hugely practical, and beneficial for people from all walks of life, especially those in high-stress jobs or facing life’s challenges and adversities. The book is praised for covering both preparation and recovery.

  • Several reviewers say the book would benefit both professionals and laypeople, parents, students, entrepreneurs, athletes, and anyone experiencing significant stress. The guidance is described as encouraging, greatly useful, and leading to growth, integration, and resilience.

  • Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress.

  • Resilience allows us to maintain a stable mental health even when exposed to events that could potentially cause psychological harm. Resilient people can recover faster and more completely from stressful events.

  • Building resilience is important because it helps prevent and address psychological problems like depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse, etc. It also helps reduce health issues and improves functioning and well-being.

  • Anyone can benefit from building resilience - those dealing with stress, trauma, health issues as well as those simply wanting to thrive.

  • Resilient people tend to share some common traits like:

  • A sense of autonomy and independence

  • Ability to stay calm under pressure

  • Rational and optimistic thinking

  • Strong self-esteem and purpose

  • Emotional intelligence and humor

  • Compassion for others

  • Curiosity and openness

  • Ability to adapt to change

  • Strong social connections and competence

  • Good health and self-care habits

  • A long-term perspective on difficulties

  • In summary, resilience comes from a combination of traits, skills and coping strategies that can be learned and developed by anyone. Building resilience helps us sail through difficulties, recover from adversities and live healthy, happy, purposeful lives.

• Resilience exists on a continuum and varies depending on circumstances. No one is perfectly resilient.

• Resilience does not mean invulnerability. Anyone can be overwhelmed under severe enough circumstances.

• Resilience refers to coping well and functioning optimally under normal and stressful circumstances. Success is doing your best.

• Resilience can vary within an individual and depends on many factors like rest, training, experience, and situation. We can increase resilience through practice.

• Nearly anyone can build resilience at any age. We can develop it before or after adversity.

• PTSD is complex and relates to other stress conditions. Understanding PTSD helps understand resilience.

• A resilience checkup assesses your strengths and goals. There are no right or wrong scores. It shows your starting point to build from.

• Resilience awareness means noticing resilience in yourself and others. This helps recognize what’s possible and build strength.

• Resilience can increase. Practicing skills leads to greater resilience, happiness, optimism, self-esteem, and less depression, anxiety, and anger.

• This workbook teaches experiential skills from traditional and positive psychology. Traditional fixes problems and moves from negative to neutral. Positive focuses on strengths and growth, moving from neutral to positive. Happiness skills help prevent and treat stress conditions.

• The resilience model has two parts: optimizing brain hardware (health) and software (skills). Software works better with good hardware.

• Skills fall into five categories: regulating arousal, managing distressing emotions, increasing happiness, thriving, and preparing for difficulty.

• Building resilience takes time. Choose skills that resonate, practice, and revisit. Make a plan to maintain gains.

• Resilient people, famous or not, can inspire us. An example is Rick Rescorla who saved many lives on 9/11 through planning, training, and leadership.

Resilience requires optimizing the brain by maintaining a healthy balance between the emotional and rational parts of the brain. The amygdala provides strong emotions and quick reactions, while the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex provide rational thinking and sound judgment. Excessive stress can upset this balance by:

•Overactivating the amygdala, leading to excessive anxiety, emotional and negative thinking, and distressing memories imprinted with intense emotion rather than details.

•Damaging the hippocampus, impairing the ability to store and retrieve factual details and context. This can lead to distressing memories that lack coherence and reality.

•Impairing the prefrontal cortex, disrupting judgment, problem-solving, and impulse control.

Some strategies for optimizing the brain include:

•Managing stress through relaxation, social support, positive thinking, and avoiding excessive drug use.

•Challenging negative and irrational thoughts.

•Practicing mindfulness to strengthen focus and concentration.

•Exercising, which stimulates the growth of new neural connections.

•Eating a healthy diet to provide the necessary nutrients for brain function.

•Getting adequate sleep, which is essential for the brain. Lack of sleep impairs memory, concentration, and impulse control.

•Continually learning new things, which stimulates the growth of neural connections.

•Spending time engaged in social interaction, as relationships activate neural circuits involved in resilience.

•Considering medication or therapy if needed to address severe anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other issues that significantly disrupt brain function and resilience.

  • The amygdala becomes hyperactive in people with PTSD, giving traumatic memories a strong emotional charge.

  • This hyperactivity shrinks or impairs the hippocampus, disrupting its ability to calm the amygdala, recall existing memories, and store new memories in a integrated way.

  • It also disrupts the prefrontal cortex, degrading cognitive abilities like problem solving, emotional regulation, and attention shifting.

  • This is illustrated in the story of Marco, whose overactive amygdala caused a traumatic memory to intrude during a train ride, confusing it with the present. A healthy hippocampus would have prevented this confusion.

  • Aging and Alzheimer’s disease cause similar brain deterioration, starting in the hippocampus and spreading outward. However, brain health and functioning can be improved and decline slowed through certain lifestyle strategies.

  • Two key findings give hope: 1) The brain is plastic, able to change structure and function through experience. 2) Brain health equals heart health; what’s good for the heart is good for the brain.

  • The eight keys to optimal brain health are: 1) Regular exercise, especially aerobic; 2) Brain-healthy nutrition like the Mediterranean diet; 3) Adequate sleep; 4) Minimizing substance use; 5) Managing medical conditions; 6) Limiting anticholinergic meds; 7) Reducing exposure to pesticides and pollutants; 8) Managing stress.

  • Exercise increases brain volume, neuron growth, and blood flow, particularly in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. It enhances mood and cognition, and can reduce PTSD symptoms. Aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise. Also do strength and flexibility training. Complex activities provide added benefit.

  • A brain-healthy diet emphasizes whole foods like fruits and vegetables, fish, whole grains, and healthy fats. It limits red meat, saturated fat, sugar, and processed carbs. Key elements include antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, good carbs, and unsaturated fats.

  • Adequate sleep, stress management, limiting unhealthy substances, managing health conditions, and reducing environmental toxins combined with the other keys provide optimal brain health and resilience. Practicing these strategies can slow or even reverse age-related mental decline and reduce dementia risk.

Focus on healthy fats from plant-based foods like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and canola oil. Choose low- or no-fat dairy instead of full-fat.

Stay hydrated by drinking 9 to 16 cups of water per day. This helps your brain function properly. Drink water throughout the day, especially before meals.

Eat protein with each meal, starting with breakfast. Good sources include yogurt, eggs, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, and peanut butter.

Eat enough calories but not too much. Follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and focus on whole foods like fruits and vegetables. Limit processed foods, salt, and sugar.

Get 7 to 8.25 hours of sleep each night for optimal brain health and daytime functioning. Lack of sleep impairs your memory, decision making, and mood. It also increases health risks.

Follow three principles of good sleep:

Amount: Get 7 to 8.25 hours of sleep each night.

Regularity: Go to bed and wake up at the same time daily, even on weekends. This helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle.

Quality: Ensure your bedroom is dark and quiet. Avoid screen time and stressful activities 1 hour before bed. Don’t eat or drink too much fluids before bedtime. Naps can help offset sleep loss if needed.

  • Eggs: A perfect food with protein, healthy fats and antioxidants. Eggs contain choline which is important for brain health and memory.

  • Avocado: A superfood containing healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Avocados are anti-inflammatory and provide oxidation protection for the brain and body.

  • Tuna: An excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which are vital for brain health and function. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and help support brain cell health and communication.

  • Turkey: A lean meat that provides protein, B vitamins, zinc and selenium. B vitamins and zinc are important for energy, mood and stress resilience. Selenium protects brain cells from damage.

  • Summary: These foods provide a combination of nutrients that support brain and mental wellness including healthy fats, protein, antioxidants, B vitamins, zinc and selenium. An diet containing these foods on a regular basis will promote resilience and optimal brain function.

Here is a summary of the key recommendations to reduce substance use and prepare to address PTSD symptoms:

•Get a physical exam. This can help identify or treat any medical issues that may be interfering with your health or recovery.

•Spend time outside in natural light. Sun exposure helps regulate mood and sleep-wake cycles. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day of sunlight or use a light therapy device.

•Engage in hobbies, recreational activities, exercise, and learning. These kinds of enriching activities release feel-good hormones that improve mood and brain health. Make time for them daily.

•Practice relaxation and deep breathing. Simple techniques like abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation help lower stress and anxiety, regulate arousal, and promote a sense of calm. Do them daily, especially before bedtime.

•Limit alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and screen time. These substances and activities can negatively impact sleep, mood, and arousal regulation. Cut back or eliminate them, especially in the evening.

• Improve sleep hygiene. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, stick to a consistent sleep schedule, limit screen time and stimulation before bed, and make your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet for the best sleep. Lack of sleep exacerbates symptoms of stress and trauma.

•Connect with others. Social support from family and friends helps reduce substance use and promote recovery. Make time to do enjoyable activities with supportive people in your life. If needed, consider joining a support group.

•Consider treatment options. Effective treatments for PTSD and substance use include psychotherapy, medication, mindfulness practices, yoga or exercise. Discuss options with your doctor to determine what is right for you based on severity of symptoms and personal preferences.

The key is making gradual lifestyle changes to establish a strong foundation for recovery and wellness. Be gentle with yourself and remember that small changes can have a big impact. You’ve got this! Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m happy to help further.

Relax your upper body and breathe comfortably for 1-2 minutes. Sense what happens in your body.

Tactical breathing:

Relax shoulders and upper body. Inhale through nose, expand belly, count to 4. Hold breath, count to 4. Exhale through mouth, count to 4.
Hold, count to 4. Repeat 2-3 times. Sense what happens in your body.

Practice a breathing skill 7 times a day for a week. Record effectiveness from 1-10. Look for patterns to see how to improve and continue.

Body-based skills work from the bottom up, calming the body to restore brain function. They use tracking to reconnect with body and self.

Movement releases stress energy and counters immobilization:

  • Kneading arm muscles
  • Slowly raising and lowering arms
  • Making a pleasant gesture
  • Pushing against a wall
  • Changing posture from slumped to confident

Grounding anchors you in the present:

  • Standing with feet planted, rocking, sensing weight shift
  • Placing hands on back, heart, belly
  • Imagining tree roots in legs

Resourcing brings a pleasant feeling:

  • List 3 favorite resources
  • Describe one in detail, sensing its effect

Practice a body-based skill 2x/day for 3 days. Record experiences. Continue longer or try another.

These skills regulate the nervous system by calming the body so the brain can function better. Master them for difficult events, stress, and recovery.

Heart coherence and progressive muscle relaxation are advanced arousal skills.

Heart coherence:

Emotions are felt primarily in the body. The heart has a brain and communicates with the head brain. Stress causes erratic heart rhythm. Calm causes smooth, sine wave-like rhythm.

To increase heart coherence:

Place hand on heart. Breathe slowly and deeply. Imagine breath flowing in and out of heart. Focus on pleasant feeling of calmness or other positive emotion. Heart rate variability will smooth out. Body and mind relax.

Progressive muscle relaxation systematically relaxes muscle groups:

Tense and relax different muscle groups one by one: hands, lower arms, upper arms, shoulders, neck, face, chest, abdomen, buttocks, thighs, calves, feet. Release tension quickly. Sense the relaxation. Stay focused on difference between tension and relaxation. Releases anxiety and stress.

We often describe emotions relating to the heart, such as heartfelt affection, brokenhearted, “my heart skipped a beat,” or “a heart overflowing with gratitude.” The heart communicates with the brain, sending far more messages to the brain than vice versa. Calming the heart has profound effects on the mind, mood, performance, and health. A lower resting heart rate and smooth variability in heart rate (heart coherence) are linked to better health and functioning.

Heart coherence can be achieved through positive emotions, especially love. The Quick Coherence technique involves heart-focused breathing, activating a positive feeling, and allowing the feeling to settle in your heart. Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing muscle groups one by one, noticing the differences, which helps reset arousal and reduce tension.

Painful, distressing emotions are normal and often relate to past and present difficulties. Recognizing them helps us manage them. Two rapid relief techniques are tapping and the butterfly hug. Tapping on acupressure points helps restore emotional balance. The butterfly hug provides soothing warmth and pressure. These skills can help shift difficult emotions and the thoughts and memories accompanying them. With regular practice of skills, emotional pain becomes less frequent and intense over time.

Here is a summary of the causes of strong negative emotions:

•Serious illness or injury in yourself or loved ones

•Rejection or betrayal

•Humiliation, criticism, or feeling inadequate

•Losing your job

•Loss (death of a loved one, end of a relationship, loss of income)

•Infidelity or divorce


•Trauma (experiencing or witnessing overwhelming events like accidents, disasters, abuse, violence)

•Other causes: financial problems, family conflicts, pressure to achieve

Unresolved emotional distress from past experiences can intensify current emotions and cause problems. Childhood trauma in particular can have lasting impacts. Avoiding emotions usually does not help and can cause further problems.

Two techniques that can help reduce intense negative emotions are:

  1. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)-like technique: Identify a distressing memory and bring it to mind until you feel moderately upset. Move two fingers back and forth in front of your eyes for 25 cycles. Notice if your distress decreases. Repeat as needed. This helps reprocess the memory.

  2. Thought field therapy (TFT): Tap on acupressure points on the face and chest in a specific sequence while thinking of the distressing thought or memory. This can quickly reduce the emotional intensity. The tapping helps to clear energy blockages and rebalance the energy system.

These techniques, especially when combined with professional counseling, can help to resolve emotional wounds and find relief from distress. Avoiding the pain will not make it go away and can cause further problems. Turning toward your pain with compassion and taking action to understand and release it is the healthiest approach.

Rapid relief techniques, such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and tapping, can help reduce distressing emotions. They involve repeating movements while focusing on the upsetting situation. These techniques are thought to work by activating both sides of the brain, disrupting distressing thoughts, releasing trapped energy, and desensitizing people to the upsetting situation.

Cognitive restructuring involves identifying distorted, negative thoughts that lead to distressing emotions and replacing them with more balanced thoughts. The ABC model shows that adversities themselves do not directly lead to emotional consequences; rather, the beliefs and thoughts (self-talk) we have about the adversities strongly influence our emotional reactions. There are several common cognitive distortions, including:

•Flaw fixation: Focusing on negatives and mistakes while ignoring positives. Replace with focusing on the good.

•Dismissing the positive: Negating positives and accomplishments. Replace by acknowledging your efforts and giving yourself credit.

•Assuming/jumping to conclusions: Making negative predictions or believing you know what others are thinking without evidence. Replace by considering alternative explanations and waiting for more information.

•Labeling: Using extreme words (like “always” or “never”) to describe yourself or others. Replace by using specific and balanced descriptions.

•Overgeneralizing: Concluding that one event applies to all situations. Replace by considering the specific situation rather than making blanket statements.

•Shoulds: Having unrealistic rules about how you “should” act or how the world “should” be. Replace by using more flexible language, like “It would be nice if…” or “I would prefer…”

•Catastrophizing: Expecting the worst possible outcome, even though it’s unlikely. Replace by considering more likely outcomes.

•Personalizing: Blaming yourself for negative events outside your control. Replace by considering other factors that contributed.

•All-or-nothing thinking: Seeing situations in black-and-white terms. Replace with acknowledging complexity and a range of possibilities in between extremes.

Practicing these techniques can help gain awareness and control over thoughts and make emotions more manageable. The key is to notice the connection between thoughts and feelings and make a habit of replacing distressing thoughts with calmer, balanced thoughts.

Here’s a summary of the key points:

• Identify cognitive distortions in your thoughts, such as all-or-none thinking, catastrophizing, labeling, overgeneralizing, mind reading, should statements, personalizing, unfavorable comparisons, emotional logic, blaming, etc.

• Challenge these distorted thoughts by asking yourself questions to consider alternative perspectives and explanations. Look for evidence that contradicts the distortion. Use words like “sometimes,” “often,” “generally,” “usually,” and “yet” to avoid extremes.

• Replace distorted thoughts with calmer, more balanced thoughts. For example, replace “I’m a failure if I’m not perfect” with “I’m human, and will do my best without demanding perfection.” Replace “This is awful and I can’t stand it!” with “This is difficult, but I can cope with it.”

• Notice the distortions you and your family members commonly use. Identify and replace them. Practice the “identify-and-replace” drill by covering the second and third columns and trying to identify distortions and generate calmer thoughts on your own. Compare with the suggestions provided.

• Key themes for calmer thoughts include:

› Accepting your inherent worth and humanity, separate from performance, salary, or events › Doing your best without demanding perfection or fairness › Maintaining perspective that you can only control and influence so much › Separating your emotions from facts and seeing feelings as transient signals, not permanent truths › Taking balanced responsibility for your choices without blaming or seeing yourself as a victim › Avoiding comparisons with others and focusing on your own journey › Having faith in your ability to cope, even if imperfectly

The summary highlights some of the main points around identifying and challenging cognitive distortions, and replacing them with calmer, balanced thoughts. The key is practicing this regularly through exercises like the “identify-and-replace” drill. Over time, it can become more automatic to notice distortions and reframe your thoughts in a more constructive way.

The six essential attitudes cultivated in mindfulness training are:

  1. Compassion: Feeling sorrow for the suffering of others and the desire to help. Compassion allows us to connect with our shared humanity.

  2. Acceptance: Embracing things as they are, including one’s limitations and imperfections. Acceptance is a antidote to complaining, fighting, or wishing things were different.

  3. Patience: The ability to tolerate delays, discomfort, and distressing thoughts or emotions without irritation or restlessness. Patience gives us the courage to sit with suffering rather than panic or act impulsively.

  4. Beginner’s mind: Approaching each experience with openness and curiosity, as if for the first time. A beginner’s mind is free from the limitation of past experiences and attitudes. Beginner’s mind opens us up to new discoveries.

  5. Nonjudgment: Taking a noncritical, noncondemning stance toward one’s experiences, emotions, and behaviors. Nonjudgment does not mean that harmful actions are condoned but rather that harsh self-criticism is unproductive. With practice, we learn to meet our imperfections with kindness.

  6. Letting go: Releasing expectations, resistance, control, and outcomes. Letting go does not mean giving up but rather cultivating flexibility and equanimity. Letting go allows us to flow with change and accept what we cannot influence. Letting go brings freedom from unnecessary suffering.

In summary, mindfulness training cultivates these qualities that profoundly change our relationship to ourselves, to others, and to life’s difficulties. With practice, we slowly transform from the ordinary mind to expressing our true happy nature.

  • Compassion means feeling kindly toward our own pain and suffering. In mindfulness, we bring gentle, friendly awareness to pain and pleasure.

  • We practice equanimity, accepting things as they are without judgment. We observe pain calmly without labeling it as good or bad. This can help diminish the intensity of pain.

  • Acceptance means acknowledging how things are in the moment without trying to fix or change them. We allow ourselves to fully feel emotions rather than battling them.

  • The wisdom mind is vast enough to embrace suffering without fear. Suffering comes and goes, but we remain.

  • A good sense of humor and beginner’s mind help us approach practice open to learning.

  • The mindfulness training sequence starts with eating a raisin mindfully, then teaches mindful breathing and the body scan. These help us rest in the present moment.

  • The meditation “Sitting with Distressing Emotions” teaches us to remain calm while feeling emotions, pleasant or unpleasant. We turn toward pain with kind awareness, softening into it. This changes how we experience the pain.

  • We practice this meditation for 30+ minutes daily. We sit comfortably, focus on our breathing, and scan our body noticing sensations without judgment. When thoughts arise, we gently return to the breath.

  • We recall a difficult situation and the feelings it brings up, like inadequacy or worry. We fully feel these emotions with acceptance, breathing into the areas of the body we feel them. We embrace them with compassion, following our breath into and out of the discomfort. The wisdom mind holds these feelings with kindness. Our breath soothes them. We remember we are vast enough to compassionately contain the pain.

The skill of self-compassion involves bringing mindfulness, common humanity, and kindness to our own suffering. We notice painful emotions without judgment, remembering that suffering is unavoidable and we are not alone. We speak to ourselves with warmth and care, as we would to someone we care deeply about. This helps us to stop harsh self-criticism, feel less isolated, and be more motivated and resilient.

The four self-compassion statements are:

  1. This is a moment of suffering.
  2. Suffering is a part of life.
  3. May I be kind to myself in this moment.
  4. May I give myself the compassion I need.

Repeating these statements while noticing our breath helps to soothe emotional pain by filling our body and mind with compassion. We place our hands over the area of discomfort and imagine compassion flowing in. The distress often lessens in intensity, even though we don’t try to force it away. With practice, self-compassion becomes easier in increasingly difficult circumstances.

The key is turning toward our pain with an open heart, rather than avoiding it. Fear and harshness do not lead to growth and resilience in the long run. Self-compassion helps us to bounce back from adversity with greater wisdom and strength.

Here is a summary of the expressive writing technique:

• Expressive writing involves writing about emotionally difficult experiences for 15-30 minutes a day for 3-4 consecutive days.

• This technique helps settle unpleasant memories and worries by helping you organize, understand, and complete them. It can lead to improved physical and mental health, as well as greater life satisfaction.

• Choose a traumatic or distressing experience to write about that still troubles you. Write about your deepest thoughts and feelings surrounding it. Let yourself go and be completely honest. You can write about the same experience each day or different ones.

• Find a private place to write where you won’t make unwanted associations. Promise yourself you’ll write for at least 15 minutes. Write by hand or type. If needed, talk into a recorder.

• Express a full range of emotions, both negative and positive. Name specific feelings rather than using slang. Explain why you feel as you do using insight and causal words.

• Writing about things outside your control, while accepting imperfect control, is most helpful. But don’t substitute writing for needed action or professional help.

• You can keep or destroy your writing after. Some edit and revise it. Others revisit it to see their progress. Do whatever feels right for you.

• Be aware that you may feel sad after writing, but this usually passes quickly. Stop or switch topics if you become extremely upset. The writing is for you alone.

• Expressive writing helps resolve old wounds by draining and cleansing them. It helps you realize you can face what you’ve avoided, then move on stronger and wiser.

Here is a summary of the steps to managing distressing dreams:

  1. Normalize your nightmares. View them as a normal part of processing difficult experiences. Recognize that many people experience similar dream themes after trauma or loss.

  2. Confide your dreams. Verbalize the nightmare by describing it to someone, recording it, or writing about it. Describe the facts, your feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations. This helps process the memory and make it less distressing.

  3. Rehearse a different, calmer response. Mentally practice responding differently in the nightmare, such as calming yourself by breathing slowly and reminding yourself it’s just a dream. Practice this calmer response during the day so you can use it if the nightmare recurs.

  4. Change the nightmare. Modify the nightmare in a way that feels right to give it a more positive outcome. For example, imagine finishing unresolved business, changing frightening characters into friendly ones, being rescued or protected, or stopping the nightmare and turning to face the threat. Do not include violence. Practice the new version of the dream daily.

  5. Expect changes in your dreams. As you work through the previous steps, you’ll likely notice your dreams become less distressing and even positive. You may feel better able to cope with the memory or event that triggered the nightmares.

The example showed how a child used drawing to express his frightening nightmare, the feelings and thoughts it evoked, and how his body felt. With guidance, he was able to change the nightmare by modifying the frightening character into a friendly one and rehearse the new calming version. This significantly reduced his distress, showing how effective these strategies can be for managing nightmares. While the example used art, you can use whatever methods work for you, such as writing, verbal description, imagery, or a combination. The key is to fully process the nightmare by describing all aspects of it and then rehearsing a new, calming version.

With regular practice of these strategies, you can overcome distressing, recurring nightmares and improve your sleep quality and daytime well-being. However, if nightmares remain frequent and intensely distressing, consider consulting a mental health professional who specializes in trauma. A professional can provide therapy for persistent nightmares and any underlying conditions.

  • Happiness refers to feeling positive emotions regularly and being satisfied with one’s life. It is more than fleeting good feelings and reflects an enduring inner state.

  • Happiness is important because it is linked to resilience, health, work success, relationships, and longevity. Positive emotions help recover from stress and see more coping options. Applying coping options builds resilience.

  • We can’t be happy all the time, but we can aim for a positivity ratio of at least 3:1. Happiness comes from genes (50%), circumstances (10%), and intentional activities (40%). Intentional activities have the most potential to increase happiness.

  • External events can bump up happiness temporarily, but it returns to baseline. Intentional practices can raise the baseline. Balance is needed; acknowledge a low genetic baseline with self-compassion.

  • It’s harder to be happy in dire conditions, so aim for security and treat health conditions. Democracy, human rights, and participation in government correlate with happiness. Married people tend to be happier, but happier people also tend to marry and stay married.

  • In general, happier people tend to be female, extroverted, optimistic, spiritual or religious, educated, and older. Values like kindness, gratitude, hope and humor help. But anyone can work to overcome tendencies and become happier.

The key figures show:

  • The happiness pie chart: Genes 50%, Circumstances 10%, Intentional Activities 40%
  • A graph showing how intentional activities can raise the happiness baseline.
  • Drawings showing emotions, sensations and a modified dream for a child called Jake. Processing his nightmares in this way helped him sleep through the night for the first time in years.

The conclusion reinforces that we can all work to become happier using the skills in this book, regardless of tendencies or circumstances. Professional help may sometimes be needed. Treating sleep apnea, which can worsen nightmares, often helps.

• Going into marriage with unrealistic expectations and lacking relationship skills can decrease happiness. However, having children is linked to happiness for many.

• Happiness is largely learned and requires effort. Most people report being generally happy, even those facing difficulties. Learning happiness skills can significantly increase happiness and may even help with depression.

• Gratitude, noticing and appreciating the good in life, is one effective happiness skill. Regularly practicing gratitude, such as by keeping a gratitude journal, writing gratitude letters, or expressing thanks to others, can improve happiness, health, relationships, and sleep.

• Gratitude changes the brain and body in beneficial ways. It counters the tendency to focus on problems and builds optimism. The more we practice, the more we find to be grateful for.

• Suggested gratitude practices include:

  • Keeping a gratitude journal: List things you’re grateful for a few times a week. Describe how they make you feel.

  • Writing a gratitude letter to someone who impacted you positively. Read it to them in person.

  • Frequently expressing thanks to others in a genuine, specific way.

  • Sharing gratitude with loved ones at the end of the day. Asking children how they might thank someone.

  • Giving up something you take for granted to appreciate it more.

  • Increasing everyday joy by noticing small pleasures and feeling gratitude in the moment.

  • Grateful reminiscing: Relaxing, breathing deeply, and vividly reliving a positive memory. Recall sensations, emotions, and thoughts. Let your face express the memory.

  • Adding photos, quotes, or mementos to your gratitude journal. Looking for things to appreciate during the day. Experiencing gratitude at the heart level.

  • Practice gratitude to build resilience. Reliving happy memories, writing them down, and expressing gratitude for adversity can help build gratitude and resilience.

  • Healthy self-esteem is important for happiness and resilience. It involves having a realistic and appreciative opinion of yourself. It is not based on perfection, superiority over others, or selfishness.

  • Self-esteem rests on three pillars:

  1. Equal, unconditional worth as a person. Each person has innate worth that does not depend on externals like skills, status, or how others treat them.

  2. Unconditional love. Receiving unconditional love and acceptance from parents or caregivers early in life helps build self-esteem.

  3. Purpose and meaning. Having purpose and meaning in life contributes to self-esteem. This could involve pursuing meaningful goals, contributing to something greater than yourself, or living according to your values.

  • To build self-esteem, practice self-care, challenge negative self-talk, focus on your strengths, pursue meaningful goals, contribute to others, accept yourself, and surround yourself with people who appreciate you. Let go of perfectionism and unrealistic social comparisons.

  • Building resilience and self-esteem is a journey. Be patient and compassionate with yourself. Appreciate the progress you make over time.

A secure foundation for a child’s emotional growth comes from knowing one’s inherent worth as a person, experiencing unconditional love, and actualizing one’s strengths and potential. While external factors like love from others can contribute to one’s sense of worthiness, one’s worth itself is not dependent on them. Learning to love unconditionally, both oneself and others, is key to living joyfully. Self-hatred serves no useful purpose.

Growing into one’s strengths and becoming more capable, caring and productive helps one to feel satisfied and contributes to a meaningful life. However, one’s worth does not depend on growth or achievement. We grow because we are inherently worthwhile, not to prove our worth. Growth means doing our personal best, not achieving perfection.

Self-esteem comes from practicing skills that strengthen one’s sense of inherent worth, ability to love unconditionally, and motivation for growth. These include:

  1. Seeing oneself clearly by recognizing both strengths and weaknesses in a balanced, non-judgmental way. One’s worth does not depend on specific attributes.

  2. Practicing the self-talk of self-esteem, e.g. accepting oneself as worthwhile regardless of perceived flaws or shortcomings; viewing criticism as informative rather than diminishing one’s worth; separating one’s worth from one’s behavior; appreciating signs of growth and achievement.

  3. Understanding that one’s worth is equal to anyone else’s and inherent, rather than earned or diminished by life events. Worth forms the foundation for growth and achievement.

The summary outlines the main ideas around self-esteem presented in the original response: that it comes from within rather than being defined by external factors; that unconditional worth and love are fundamental; and that self-esteem is built through skills and practices that strengthen one’s sense of inherent worth and motivation for growth.

Here is a summary of the activities:

Activity 1: Acknowledging Strengths

  • Identify your strengths and roles you play by circling options on a provided list
  • Write 10 positive statements about yourself based on the lists
  • Meditate on one statement each day for 7 days, adding one new statement each day
  • Notice how you feel more positive about yourself after doing this activity

Activity 2: Viewing Yourself with Love

  • Look at yourself in a mirror and look into your own eyes with love and understanding
  • Do this several times a day over 4 days
  • Notice how your appearance and stress levels change, and you develop a more wholesome feeling about yourself
  • Appreciate your body and accomplishments when looking in the mirror instead of focusing on flaws
  • Give yourself encouragement and praise for your efforts and accomplishments


  • Comparing yourself to others is exhausting and doesn’t provide inner security like self-esteem does
  • Self-esteem is a skill you can develop and improve
  • Those who practice self-esteem skills become happier and more resilient

The key messages are: identify and appreciate your strengths, show yourself compassion, focus on your accomplishments and efforts rather than flaws and imperfections, and avoid comparing yourself to others. Developing these habits can greatly improve your self-esteem and wellbeing.

Here is a summary of the chapter:

  • Realistic optimism means having a positive and hopeful outlook while still recognizing challenges and putting in effort. It leads to greater happiness, health, relationships, and performance.

  • Unrealistic optimism, on the other hand, is a false belief that things will work out without effort. It can lead to being unprepared and disappointed.

  • Optimists and pessimists have different explanatory styles for bad events. Optimists attribute events to external, specific, and impermanent causes. Pessimists attribute events to personal, pervasive, and permanent causes. Optimistic styles are more motivating and lead to better functioning.

  • We can cultivate optimism by:

  • Practicing explanatory style exercises like describing bad situations and coming up with both pessimistic and optimistic interpretations.

  • Doing “at least” exercises to find the positives in adversity.

  • Reading books on optimism and resilience.

  • Collecting optimistic quotes and reflections.

  • Completing an optimism questionnaire.

  • Practicing self-instruction training to prepare optimistic thoughts for difficult events.

  • Choosing optimism is a skill we can learn and strengthen over time through practice. Developing realistic optimism helps build resilience and improves our lives in many ways.


•Approach challenges with curiosity, not self-doubt.

•Keep goals realistic. The first time through is often the hardest.

•Recognize if you need to shift strategies. Do your best and try to stay calm.


•Stay calm and steady. You will likely solve this.

•Try a new strategy if needed. Your best effort is all you can ask.


For good outcomes:

•Be proud of yourself. You used your strengths and skills.

•This gives you confidence for the future.

For bad outcomes:

•It’s in the past; move on. Tomorrow is a new day.

•Learn from your mistakes and try a new strategy next time.

•Some things are out of your control. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

To maintain hope:

•Create a hope kit with photos, quotes, memories of overcoming obstacles. Refer to it often.

•Limit passive and negative media. Optimists watch less TV.

•Imagine and write about your best possible future. Set goals and break them into steps. Replace negative thoughts with more positive ones. Look for new insights.

•Strengthening optimism and altruism can help overcome a difficult past. Focus on a brighter future.


•Altruism is unselfish concern for others. It makes us happier, healthier and more successful.

•Altruism builds connections, distracts us from worries, and the joy we give reflects back to us.

•Altruism changes how we see others and ourselves. We feel more capable and life feels more meaningful.

•Altruism inspires others and combats cynicism. Stories of altruism during hardship are inspiring.

•Altruism boosts happiness more than passive activities. But don’t overdo it and lose the joy.

•Try a kindness day - do 5 kind acts in a day once a week. Interact with those you help. Start with small acts like on the list.

•In all, stay positive, help others, learn from your mistakes and keep working toward a better future.

  • Humor is the ability to see the comical in life and find amusement in situations. It allows us to see bad situations in a new, more positive light.

  • Wholesome humor brings pleasure, increases happiness, and enhances resilience. It helps us cope with adversity and brightens both good and bad times. Hostile humor, on the other hand, belittles people and is associated with poorer well-being.

  • The various forms of humor include stories, jokes, wit, pranks, banter, bloopers, slapstick, and malapropisms. Wholesome humor lifts spirits, puts us at ease, and brings people together. It pokes fun in a good-natured, inclusive way. Hostile humor belittles and excludes.

  • Examples of wholesome humor: Mother Teresa’s joke about making others smile; Carlos Mencia’s quip about people at Walmart. An example of hostile humor: telling an embarrassing story about someone to exclude them.

  • Wholesome humor cultivates optimism, acceptance, and connection. It conveys that we are all in the same boat and helps us not take ourselves too seriously. Hostile humor does the opposite.

  • To build wholesome humor, notice amusing moments, laugh at yourself in a kind way, share funny stories, watch comedies, and practice not taking yourself too seriously. Limit hostile/sarcastic humor.

  • Hostile humor that puts others down or reveals self-dislike is usually not effective in real life and can be hurtful. It often comes from insecurity and unhappiness.

  • Wholesome humor that shows you like yourself and others is a sign of emotional health and maturity.

  • You can improve your sense of humor by noticing life’s amusing moments, complimenting others, being kind, spontaneous and yourself. Know when humor is inappropriate. Use self-deprecating humor sparingly.

  • Some activities to cultivate your humor include:

•Exploring your humor preferences and reminiscing about funny life stories.

•Looking for things each day that make you smile and recording them.

•Starting your day by smiling, laughing or thinking positive thoughts.

•Finding humor even when upset, anxious or depressed. Make a habit of this.

•Creating a collection of things that make you laugh like jokes, movies, books, etc. Refer to it often.

•Telling a joke or funny story and improving your comedic skills with practice.

•Playing with language and exaggerating for effect.

•Laughing at yourself in an accepting, kind way. Make light of imperfections and flaws.

•Finding humor in adversity and difficult times. Look for the comedy in the worst-case scenario.

•Spending time with others who enjoy life and can laugh. Their joy can lift your mood too.

In summary, cultivating your sense of humor and learning to laugh more leads to greater happiness, health, and well-being. Look for life’s amusing moments and share them with others. Laugh at yourself with kindness. And find ways to lighten adversity, however small. A good laugh nourishes the soul.

• Moral strength refers to virtues like honesty, respect, benevolence, and responsibility. It leads to happiness, peace of conscience, and resilience.

• Happiness is tied to moral living. Behaving ethically connects us to our core values and gives us self-respect. Regrets and guilt from immoral acts undermine well-being.

• Moral strength can be cultivated in several ways:

  1. Decide to live morally before facing adversity. This makes it easier to act with integrity under stress.

  2. Have a system to make right your inevitable wrongs and find inner peace. Admit the wrong, apologize, understand mitigating factors, pick yourself up, reconcile with a higher power, forgive yourself, and commit to do better.

  3. Pursue moral excellence through practicing virtues valued across cultures. Do a moral inventory to build strengths and note where you can improve, without judgment.

• Viewed as a lifelong process, moral growth brings self-respect, trust, happiness, and resilience. We can be “holy” in any role by living with integrity—aligning values and actions.

• Mother Teresa and Mark Twain represent opposing views on self-respect. Teresa saw holiness as a simple duty within everyone’s grasp. Twain felt people lack self-respect at their core. Resilient people work to maintain self-respect and recover it if lost.

The key is not moral perfection but moral progress—doing our earnest best, learning from mistakes, and persevering. With compassion for ourselves and others, we can strengthen moral capacity, find greater happiness and inner peace, and become more resilient.

Meaning refers to feeling that one’s life has significance, purpose, and value. Purpose means having important goals and direction. Together, meaning and purpose are vital for well-being and resilience.

  • Those with meaning and purpose tend to be happier and more resilient. A reason to live helps endure hard times.

  • Viktor Frankl said “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” Meaning helps survive suffering.

  • Frankl found those in concentration camps with meaning (e.g. serving others) endured best. He found his own meaning envisioning his wife, lecturing on lessons learned, appreciating nature.

  • Meaning comes from living your values, using strengths, love, learning, religion, arts, work, etc. See life as a mission. Help others.

  • To find more meaning: Identify values and priorities, use character strengths, set life goals, be generous and kind, express gratitude, reflect on life’s meaning, and accept suffering as meaningful.

  • A meaningful life contributes value to the world in one’s own unique way. Keep asking “what really matters?” Focus outward, not inward.

  • No life has meaning without struggle and suffering. See hard times as defining moments and learning opportunities, not as meaningless.

  • Create meaning through the stories you tell yourself about your life. Revise stories to be more hopeful, empowering and see the bigger picture.

  • “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” - Viktor Frankl

Meaning and purpose are so important for well-being. Keep reflecting on what gives your own life deep meaning, and take action to strengthen your sense of purpose. Our meaning comes from living according to our values, using our strengths, loving, learning, spiritual life, work, and making a difference. See life as a mission and help however you can. Though life includes suffering, meaning can make hard times more bearable and even an opportunity for growth. Meaning comes from the empowering stories we tell ourselves. We can always choose our response.

  • Finding meaning and purpose in life leads to greater happiness, health, and resilience. It helps protect against negative mental health outcomes.

  • Having meaning and purpose is a personal choice. We each find our own unique path by applying our strengths in ways that matter to us and contribute to the world.

  • There are three main areas where we can cultivate meaning and purpose:

  1. Giving something meaningful to the world by contributing to causes we care about, creating art or poetry, selfless service, simple acts of kindness, doing our best at work, etc.

  2. Experiencing life’s pleasures like adventure, nature, love, recreation, etc. Appreciating beauty and wonder.

  3. Developing positive personal qualities like courage, responsibility, understanding, patience, etc.

  • Meaning and purpose in work comes from finding work you love, redefining your job to utilize your strengths, focusing on intrinsically satisfying goals, etc. Even difficult jobs can be made meaningful.

  • Meaning can be found even in crises and adversity by identifying strengths used, benefits gained, lessons learned, what’s still important, remaining optimistic, etc. This helps build resilience.

  • A story was shared of two sisters who found meaning while imprisoned in a concentration camp by planning to start a home after the war to rehabilitate the prison guards and spread a message of love. One sister died but the other survived to spread their message.

  • In summary, meaning and purpose come from living according to our deepest values and strengths, contributing to things that matter, experiencing life’s beauty, and maintaining an optimistic spirit even in difficult times. This leads to greater well-being and resilience.

  • Social intelligence refers to the ability to effectively apply people skills in diverse situations. Socially intelligent people tend to be happier, healthier, and more successful.

  • Love is at the core of social intelligence and resilience. Love positively impacts health, happiness, and performance. Love gives us strength and purpose to endure hard times.

  • Positivity resonance refers to fleeting moments of warm connection with others that lead to greater happiness, health, and resilience. Lack of positivity resonance is very damaging.

  • We are all leaders in some capacity. Good leadership comes from the heart. Effective leaders show care, concern, and love for those they lead. They build others up, listen, empathize, and create supportive environments where people can flourish.

  • Show you care. Express affection, listen without judgment, create structure and fun family time.

  • Be involved in your children’s lives. Know their friends, activities, and challenges. Set clear rules and reasonable consequences. Praise their efforts and accomplishments.

  • Model the behavior you want to see. Practice good communication, empathy, and problem-solving. Admit mistakes and apologize when needed.

  • Value each family member. Express interest in each other’s lives, hopes, and dreams. Respect differences and find common ground. Make time for individual and group conversations.

  • Share joyful experiences together. Do fun activities together like games, sports, crafts, volunteering, travel, etc. Create happy memories through traditions, rituals, and quality time together.

  • Deal with challenges together. Discuss problems openly and listen to each other. Look for compromises and solutions that work for everyone. Present a united front.

  • Maintain a healthy, balanced perspective. Don’t expect perfection. Focus on progress, not problems. Take care of yourself so you can support each other. Maintain friendships and interests outside the family.

  • Express gratitude. Thank each other for even small acts of kindness and support. Appreciate the good in each day and in each family member. Maintain an attitude of gratitude.

In summary, strong families build closeness through communication, quality time together, expressing affection and appreciation, maintaining high expectations, and working as a team to problem solve and find the joy in each day. With practice and patience, any family can strengthen their bonds over time.

Here are the habits I would try:

•Cultivate the family-as-team ethic. Explain purpose of chores and work alongside children.

•Hold regular family councils. Come together to coordinate, share goals, encourage. Post an agenda for issues to address. Brainstorm options without critiquing. Choose best option to try.

•Follow up family councils with regular parent-child interviews. Listen to each child’s interests, concerns, goals. Keep positive.

•Correct in private. Avoid resentment.

•Tap the power of the family dinner. Benefits children, families, parents. Make it a priority. Turn off electronics. Have children help.

•Make each child feel loved and appreciated. Express affection, have one-on-one dates, make memory books. Focus on loving the child you have.

•Parent the child you have, not the child you wish you had. Set appropriate boundaries and consequences based on each child’s needs.

  • Forgiving others and yourself is a process that releases negative feelings and helps people move on from painful past events.
  • Research shows forgiveness leads to greater happiness, self-esteem, hope, and empathy as well as less stress, anxiety, depression, and health problems.
  • Receiving forgiveness involves recognizing one’s mistakes, making amends if possible, and accepting one is still worthwhile despite imperfections. Spiritual practices like imagining a conversation with a kind moral authority can help in feeling forgiven.
  • Forgiving yourself involves dropping self-condemnation, recognizing all people make mistakes, and believing you can still have a good life. Writing a self-forgiveness letter and focusing on what you’ve learned can help.
  • Forgiving others involves healing from trauma, understanding the offender’s perspective, recognizing the offense says more about the offender, letting go of troubling thoughts, beginning the process of forgiveness, and accepting you may only be able to take the offender to “neutral”.
  • Forgiveness is a skill that gets easier with practice. Although difficult, choosing to forgive can free us from the power of past hurts and allow us to live with greater peace and purpose.

The key points are that forgiveness releases us from past pains, leads to greater well-being, and involves a process of recognizing our shared humanity, healing from hurts, and making the choice to let go of bitterness and condemnation (of self or others). Forgiveness is challenging but life-giving work that allows us to move forward in a positive way.

The key to happiness and resilience is striking a balance among the past, present, and future. Regarding the past, make peace with troubling events and find ways to fondly recall happy memories. Regarding the future, set meaningful goals and have a worthwhile plan, but don’t obsess about the future or become overly rigid.

Regarding the present, engage in pleasant and meaningful activities that you enjoy. The Pleasant Events Schedule helps you identify activities you’ve enjoyed, check if you’ve been engaging in enough of them recently, and make a plan to start enjoying more of them again. Doing so will lift your mood and strengthen your resilience.

The schedule lists three types of pleasant events:

  1. Social interactions: Being with others, connecting, conversing, expressing affection, etc. These make us feel accepted, appreciated, and understood.

  2. Activities: Learning, helping others, exercising, hobbies, volunteering, etc. These make us feel capable, useful, strong, loving, and adequate.

  3. Intrinsically pleasant activities: Laughing, relaxing, enjoying a meal, music, reading, etc. We engage in these simply because we enjoy them.

Comparing the first and second columns shows if you’ve engaged in enough pleasant events recently. Circling events you’d enjoy doing helps make a balanced plan to start engaging in more of them. The key is balancing work or stressful responsibilities with play and pleasure. Make time for enjoyment and your resilience and happiness will grow.

Here is a summary of the items from the second column that describe an active coping approach:

Are proactive doers and problem solvers.

Are adventurous. This means they are disposed to cope with the new and unknown.

Are curious. Curious people don’t get down when they feel stress but approach problems with pleasant and engaged interest.

Acknowledge that a problem exists. They think about it, generate and weigh alternative solutions, make and follow a plan of action, and have a backup plan.

Are conscientious. That is, they are determined to build a better life and improve. So they work hard, persist, and make use of needed resources.

Are disciplined. They organize—creating structure, order, and routine. They follow through with their plans.

Keep dreams and make goals. These goals are guided by internal core values, not the dictates of others.

Make decisions without perfect knowledge (which we never have). They allow themselves the freedom to take decisive action, take reasonable risks, make mistakes, and even fail.

Recognize emotional needs and the need for emotional survival skills. They may block out emotions in order to function during a crisis, but then they address them as soon as it is appropriate so that the emotions don’t continue to trouble them.

Are not impulsive. They think their actions through as much as possible before acting. They think about what they are doing and do not take unreasonable risks.

Maintain focus. They continuously ask, “What’s the most important thing to do right now to get me closer to my goal?”

In summary, the active coper demonstrates an engaged, confident, and emotionally intelligent approach to coping with difficulties, meeting challenges, solving problems, achieving goals, and improving quality of life. The active stance increases opportunities and the likelihood of success.

The son initially felt isolated in his distressing emotions, but realizing others were in the same boat helped them move past those feelings and focus on their training. In contrast, many emergency responders actively cope at work by engaging in their physical tasks, but disengage from their emotions at home by shutting them down.

Prisoners of war in Vietnam exercised their freedom through activity, like walking in their cells, doing exercises, and communicating covertly to maintain morale. Even in the worst conditions, people can actively cope.

Passive copers avoid problems and emotions. They deny or minimize issues, get stuck, blame themselves or others, dwell on the problem rather than solutions, wish for better but do little, become bewildered or wait for instructions when action is needed, use cynicism or indifference to avoid pain, may cope at work but avoid emotions at home, and withdraw from distressing people or situations. Only 10% of people in crises act decisively; most freeze or act self-destructively.

Avoidance leads to more stress, health issues, relationship problems, poorer functioning, and mental health issues. In contrast, active coping is associated with the opposite.

To cultivate active coping, acknowledge problems and develop action plans, accept distressing thoughts and emotions rather than avoid them, reframe problems as challenges, use calming skills to see options and act, and rehearse skills in real-life training.

An activity helps clarify motivations for active coping, set reasonable process-focused goals, and create a mental rehearsal dialogue with affirmations for each goal to build motivation and the ability to act well under pressure. The example dialogue shows staying composed and focused, doing one’s best, and responding well to emotions. Reviewing performance with quiet satisfaction in having done one’s best is emphasized.

  • To build self-confidence, acquire experience through practice and training. Make your training rigorous so that real-life challenges seem easier by comparison.

  • Confidence must be based in reality. Know your capabilities and limitations. Overconfidence can lead to poor decision making and surprise failures.

  • Learn to regulate your arousal and concentration. Skills like mindfulness, relaxation, and breathing techniques can help you stay focused and poised under pressure.

  • Exercise and sports participation are linked to greater confidence. They provide experiences of success and mastery.

  • Perfectionism undermines confidence. Aim for excellence, not perfection. No one produces masterpieces all the time.

  • Confident people feel prepared for challenges and view them as opportunities to succeed. They are poised, trusting in their ability, and focused on their performance rather than others’ judgments.

  • Confidence is usually built gradually through patient, supportive training and experience. The “strengthen and build” model works better than the “weed out the weak” model for most people.

  • To be confident means accepting the possibility of imperfect performance. Reframe “failure” as an opportunity to learn. With experience, errors decrease.

  • To build confidence for a challenging situation, visualize each step of the challenge and pair each step with a memory of a past success when you felt capable. This helps bring forward feelings of confidence and competence. Practice this visualization repeatedly.

  • Relax, breathe steadily, and speak confidently. Your body and mind will follow your lead. Picture yourself handling the challenge with poise and skill. This imagery and self-talk build confidence from the inside out.

Does this summary accurately reflect the key points about building self-confidence? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of the summary.

To build confidence for challenging situations:

• Practice relaxation and mindfulness skills to gain awareness and composure.

• Visualize succeeding in detail, experiencing what you see, hear, feel, etc. Combine with practice.

• Also visualize coping with anxiety, tension, negative thoughts, and mistakes. Then see yourself correcting these and succeeding.

• Remember past successes and achieve-ments. Relive the positive feelings. Superimpose these over your challenge.

• Pay attention to your self-talk after facing a challenge. Reinforce success and learn from mistakes. Move on from failures.

To develop flexibility and creativity:

• Establish good habits and discipline to focus your mind. Reduce distractions and time wasting.

• Assess how flexible you are in adapting to change. Notice rigid versus open thinking. Practice flexible thinking.

• Try creative techniques like brainstorming, free association, humor, paradoxes, and “what if” questions.

• Look at situations from multiple perspectives. Get input from others. Question assumptions.

• Make unexpected associations and connections. Play with ideas. Allow nonsense and absurdity.

• Avoid premature closure. Withhold judgment during idea generation. Evaluate ideas later.

• Take breaks to rest your mind. Do physical exercise which stimulates creative thinking.

• Express gratitude which also expands your thinking. Appreciate small details in the environment.

In summary, confidence, flexibility and creativity are interrelated. They are built through disciplined practice of skills that open and focus your mind. With these strengths, you can face challenges with calm awareness and the ability to adapt in innovative ways. You move closer to functioning at your peak.

Here is a summary of your flexibility and creativity:

Flexibility (Scale of 1 to 10):

I usually have a plan, but I don’t “fall in love with” my plan (that is, I’m not rigidly attached to a plan that isn’t working).: 7 I constantly think of alternative routes to success.: 8 I always have a backup plan, a plan B.: 9 I willingly and rapidly adapt to changing situations.: 8 I know when to change course and devise a new strategy.: 7 When a goal is unachievable, I can accept defeat—to live to fight another day. I know when to cut my losses.: 6 I am willing to take action based on my best judgment, but I accept what I can’t control.: 8 I have a nimble mind; I think well on my feet.: 7 I see when change is needed and welcome it.: 8 I will consider and take risks that are appropriate.: 7 When under stress, I’m willing to try something new.: 6 I don’t let my mental maps (seeing things as I want or expect them to be) stop me from seeing things as they really are. I am open to all new evidence.: 7 I accept what can’t realistically be changed or controlled, but I think of many ways to cope with such situations.: 8 I roll with the punches when things don’t go as planned; I don’t get bent out of shape.: 9 I quickly adapt, but I don’t hurry into things about which I’m not reasonably certain.: 7 I don’t always have to be right.: 8

Creativity (Scale of 1 to 10):

Acquiring money (to meet basic needs, to buy things that are needed to create, and so forth): 7 Amusing others (such as children or friends): 8 Amusing yourself: 8 Applying your strengths in a unique way: 7 Bargaining with a salesperson: 6 Beautifying a space; making it attractive or orderly: 8 Bringing joy or friendliness to others: 8 Cleaning: 7 Cooking (tweaking recipes or making something from scratch without a recipe):9 Creating an environment that encourages people to innovate: 7 Dancing: 5 Entertaining or planning leisure activities: 8 Explaining or teaching things simply or clearly: 7 Expressing feelings: 8 Finding enjoyment in difficult situations: 6 Finding meaning during difficult times: 7 Finding shortcuts; saving time: 8 Finding ways to calm yourself and maintain focus in crisis: 7 Gardening: 7 Getting ahead of problems (anticipating problems and devising solutions before they occur): 7 Getting others to work together constructively; building teamwork: 8 Inventing games (or giving old games a new twist): 6 Looking at situations in ways that encourage solutions (for instance, “My boss isn’t a tyrant; he’s frustrated.”): 7 Making family memories: 8 Making good decisions after considering different options: 8 Making new designs, processes, ideas, or programs: 7 Making others smile or feel good: 8 Making a satisfying, meaningful life: 8 Making tasks easier or simpler: 8 Motivating or encouraging people: 8 Organizing (for example, a room, an event, a mission); bringing order to chaos or confusion: 8 Playing sports: 6 Putting ideas together in a new way: 7 Putting others at ease: 8 Questioning conventional methods and imagining new ones: 7 Raising children (motivating, encouraging, disciplining, providing, or loving): n/a Resolving conflict: 7 Seeing several options before deciding: 8 Solving problems; overcoming obstacles: 8 Spotting personal weaknesses and finding ways to improve: 7 Strengthening your relationships: 8 Talking your way out of a jam: 7 Telling stories: 7 Turning complex ideas into simple ones: 7 Turning life’s negatives into positives: 7 Turning mistakes or guilt into growth: 7 Writing (such as letters, stories, reports, or books): 7

Creative people have an ability to see the whole situation, including problems, opportunities, resources, barriers and solutions. They pay attention to both external factors and their own intuition and ideas. They enjoy the creative process.

Under stress, most people narrow their focus and miss new possibilities. Creative people open their minds to new options and push past limits. Several principles nurture creativity:

Relax and trust the process. Creativity takes time. Pressure stifles it.

Reframe problems as challenges and opportunities. Approach with curiosity, not negativity.

Observe with an open, nonjudgmental mind. Notice details and intuitions.

Start early. Time permits ideas to incubate. Procrastination inhibits creativity.

Persevere. Creativity requires hard work over time. Stay motivated.

Expose yourself to diverse ideas. Study various fields and cultures. Gain experience.

Give your mind time to wander. Take breaks to refresh your thinking.

Lift your mood. Positive emotions promote flexible, creative thinking.

Replace limiting thoughts with empowering thoughts. Avoid an “expert” mindset.

Ask questions that stimulate new ideas, e.g. “What would happen if…?”

Go back and forth between extremes, e.g. work and rest, introversion and extroversion.

Make a creative environment. Encourage experimentation and risk-taking. Pursue teamwork and enrich relationships.

Write down fleeting ideas before you forget them. File them for later use.

Creativity may not always be needed or desirable, especially when old practices are working well. But when challenges arise, nurturing creativity can lead to new solutions.

Creative problem solving is an important skill that can help improve mental health and coping. The key steps in creative problem solving are:

  1. Identify the problem you want to solve. Name the issue and describe it from multiple perspectives to gain insight.

  2. Generate many possible solutions. Use strategies like brainstorming, imagining the opposite, scaling techniques, and taking other perspectives. Evaluate options by weighing pros and cons.

  3. Select a solution or combination of solutions to implement. Make an action plan specifying who, what, where, when, and how.

  4. Evaluate progress and make adjustments as needed.

An example of creative problem solving in action was shown by American POWs in North Vietnam. They set up an educational program to occupy themselves, held secret church services, communicated between cells, and devised an exercise program. Their creativity and resilience helped many survive the ordeal.

In summary, viewing problems from multiple angles and generating a wide range of solutions increases the chances of uncovering an effective solution. Implementing a solution, evaluating progress, and making adjustments leads to better outcomes. Creative problem solving is a learnable skill that can be applied to many life challenges.

The prisoners were remarkably flexible and creative in developing ways to learn new skills and cope with their confinement. They taught each other a variety of subjects, including American history, psychology, sociology, physiology, religion, languages, trigonometry, and dance. They even created an imaginary piano keyboard on the floor using a piece of brick and gave lessons in how to play simple tunes. In the evenings, they discussed their hobbies, interests, and ways to become better husbands and fathers. Some memorized inspirational poems and Bible verses to lift their spirits.

Flexibility and creativity are useful skills that can help address life’s challenges. When solutions are not readily available, changing your perspective or response can help. Keeping an open and curious mind, as children do, fosters flexibility and creativity. Healing from trauma also requires flexibility to shift from a survival mindset to a healing one, being open to receiving help, and trying different treatment approaches. Myths and distorted beliefs often prevent people from seeking early treatment, but trauma treatment can be highly effective, even for long-term PTSD. Recovery is indicated when traumatic memories no longer cause distress, a sense of meaning and self-worth is restored, and a commitment to the future is present.

  • Willpower and getting back to work alone do not usually overcome PTSD. New treatment approaches are often needed, especially for long-lasting symptoms.

  • Not all mental health professionals are incompetent or incapable of helping those with trauma. It is best to shop around to find a trauma specialist you can work well with.

  • Feeling remorse for past actions does not make someone a bad person. Humans are able to learn from mistakes, make changes, and move on from guilt.

  • There are many resources for help with PTSD, including referral services to find local trauma specialists. Be an informed consumer and prepare by learning about different treatment options to find what may work best for you.

  • Recovery and healing are possible by minimizing suffering through developing coping skills and resilience. The recovery process can lead to growth and learning.

  • Practicing resilience skills strengthens related neural pathways in the brain, while lack of practice can weaken them. Regular practice of skills is important, especially under stress.

  • Reviewing and summarizing the key ideas and skills from resources like this workbook helps to reinforce learning and support future use of the skills. Make a plan for ongoing practice of the most useful skills for you.

  • Teaching skills to others through activities like group discussions and scenario practices is an effective way to strengthen your own learning and mastery.

  • Continue lifelong learning to build on your resilience. The recommended resources and additional free online resources provide ongoing tools and information for strengthening resilience.

  • Have confidence in the many strengths, skills, and resources you have developed to draw from during difficult times. Keep learning and growing in resilience.

Here is a summary of the blank template:

Meditation and Methods: Chapter 20 covers additional methods to build happiness and resilience:

Looking Ahead:

  • Preparing Emotionally for Difficult Times: Learn emotional inoculation to handle crisis.
  • Preparing for Post-Crisis Stress Symptoms: Avoid being surprised by stressful events.
  • Resilient Suffering: Gain perspectives to navigate pain.
  • Emotional Inoculation for Emergency Responders: Useful for high-risk groups to support them.

Additional Resilience Reflections

Online Bibliography

Appendix A: Brain Health Planning Form

  • Plan and log meals, amounts, and nutrients

Appendix B: Initial Fourteen-Day Commitment

  • Log exercise, diet, sleep for 2 weeks to start health plan.

Appendix C: Log Sheet for Resilience Strategies

  • Log different strategies used and rate effectiveness from 1 to 10.

Recommended Resources:

  • Various books, CDs, websites on resilience, mindfulness, morality, nutrition, etc.

The summary outlines the key sections, topics, planning forms, and recommended resources covered in blank template for Chapter 20. The sections provide guidance on preparing emotionally for difficult times, building resilience, improving brain health and more.

  • Resources for developing physical fitness and positive psychology. These include books, websites, and organizations focused on yoga, tai chi, positivity, happiness, and character strengths.

  • Resources for protectors such as police officers, firefighters, and veterans. These include books on emotional survival, combat psychology, supporting police families, and healing trauma. They also include organizations that provide treatment and support for protectors.

  • Resources for understanding and treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) such as books, websites, and organizations focused on PTSD education, coping strategies, and finding trauma specialists.

  • Resources for building resilient couples and families. These include books on communication, conflict resolution, intimacy, and parenting skills. They also include organizations that provide relationship education and skills training.

  • Additional resources for sleep, thought field therapy, trauma relief, and references.

The summary outlines resources across many areas related to well-being, relationships, trauma, and personal growth. The resources include books, websites, organizations, treatment providers, and research references.

Here is a summary of the references:

  • Happiness and well-being can be increased through intentional activities and practices. Some recommendations include practicing gratitude, acts of kindness, savoring life’s joys, and mindfulness.
  • Resilience can be built through developing a meaningful life purpose, maintaining optimism, building strong relationships, and self-care. Resilience helps people cope with difficulties and setbacks.
  • Trauma can have significant negative impacts on well-being. Treatments for trauma include trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, mindfulness-based practices, and the trauma and community resiliency models.
  • A healthy lifestyle that includes good sleep, nutrition, exercise, stress management, and avoidance of substances can help support well-being and healthy aging.
  • Humor and laughter have many psychological and physical benefits and can help decrease stress and negative emotions while increasing positive emotions and resilience.
  • Gratitude, generosity, spirituality, and compassion have been shown to increase happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being.
  • Strong, supportive relationships are essential for well-being, happiness, health, and longevity. Social interaction and engagement can help decrease risks for cognitive and physical decline as people age.

The references cover positive psychology interventions and treatments, trauma and resilience, wellness and healthy aging, and the importance of relationships and social interactions for well-being. There is an emphasis on strategies and skills people can develop to increase happiness, life satisfaction, and health.

The article argues that knowing when to quit an unpleasant or unproductive activity, task or situation can help reduce stress and increase well-being. Continuing to persist in the face of failure or adversity when there is little chance of success or gain can be physically and psychologically damaging. The author recommends evaluating the costs and benefits of continuing versus quitting to determine the optimal choice in a given situation. Sometimes quitting is the healthy and productive choice. Learning to quit while you’re behind can be an important life skill that leads to greater happiness and resilience.

Author Photo

About Matheus Puppe