Our emotions got us into the recession. They can keep us there, or get us out of it.

Resilience is the essential ingredient for thriving when budgets are cut, sales are down, when our jobs are threatened or gone, or when we are simply overwhelmed by it all. People who lack resilience can go into a downward spiral of lost confidence, worry, poor motivation, negative thinking and depression.

Researchers have revealed what the most resilient people do that most of us don’t. The differences are not profound, but they involve changing our thinking habits so that we think in healthy ways, every time. That may be as challenging as any New Year's resolution, but the research reveals that the benefits are life-changing - more optimism, more motivation, less stress and better health. It suggests that we'll probably live significantly longer too.

Resilient people and teams have a particular kind of optimism that helps them deal with reality, not avoid it. Telling everyone, 'Don't worry, everything will be okay' then doing nothing when you should, is simply denial. Getting up in the morning and proclaiming, 'It's going to be a wonderful day!' is commendably positive, but it's not real optimism either and your good feelings may not survive an encounter with a grumpy teenager or being late to work.

Real optimists see life as a journey with inevitable setbacks, not a series of gold medal performances. When they have a setback, they're clear that it is a setback, not a failure. In other words it's temporary. Significantly, their setbacks are no reflection on their potential, just opportunities to learn, or caused by events that are temporary.

We can train ourselves in real optimism by forcing ourselves to take that healthy perspective on setbacks until we change our thinking habits.

Pessimists can believe that bad events, or setbacks, are their fault and long-term. They may think those setbacks or their failings will affect everything they do. Researchers have measured the effects of that kind of thinking on human immune systems. It damages our health. Your score on the optimism-pessimism scale at age 25 would be sufficient to predict your health 20 years later. In a study of 800 patients at the Mayo Clinic, the optimists reduced their chances of early death by 50 per cent.

Where others see hopeless recession, the world's resilient people see challenges and opportunity. They might not be able to influence the world economy, but they can make the best of their situation and be ready when the recession goes.
They develop a plan as their first action. They have a reasonably accurate idea of how big the cause of their stress really is. They stay committed to their plan, their belief in themselves and to their relationships with their families, friends and colleagues, and know that they can call on those relationships in times of stress.

The most stressful way to handle the recession is to do nothing - and worry. Resilience is something we can develop on our own, within our business teams and in the family. It's a focus, a challenge - and liberating.

Author's Bio: 

Ralph Brown is the author of 'The Village That Could' a fable about resilience and 'Success at work and at home - practical ways to develop your emotional intelligence'.

Ralph has a background in psyschology, television journalism and business. He is based in New Zealand.

Find Ralph's blog and information about his books at www.skillset.co.nz.