“Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.” Vivian Komori
Hubs and I ran 6 miles at our local Relay for Life yesterday. One of the men he used to work with organizes a team, raises funds, puts up a tent, and, with help from his family, cooks breakfast for everyone who attends, hundreds of people. He donates (or arranges the donation of) all of the food for the breakfast – pancakes, ham, fruit, baked goods, juice, and coffee. What a selfless and generous guy!
Relay for Life is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Our Lancaster County version of the event raised over $700,000 by the time Bill and I left. Donations keep coming in for a few days after the relay, so that total will increase.
Even though Bill no longer works at his office, we wanted to contribute, so we made a donation and signed up for a time slot.
We arrived a few minutes early, said hello to everyone, and stepped out on the track.
You might think running laps for an hour on the track would be pretty boring, and if it weren’t for the event taking place, it might be, but there are lots of walkers and some other runners to watch. While we ran, a vocalist, a dancer, and a blues band entertained the crowd and participants in a costume contest vyed for donations.
Running on the flat, springy track was actually very easy on the legs and the hour passed by in no time. We wound up completing a little over six miles.
When we got home, I looked at some of the photos from last year’s event, which reminded me of how I struggled with a hamstring injury then. The laps I did last year were more of a run/walk than a run. I felt frustrated, disheartened, and dejected.
Now, many runners have come back from injuries far more serious than mine, but at my age when an injury occurs, stories can have very different endings, depending on the severity of the injury and the resilience of the runner.
Some runners elect to hang up their running shoes and some gut it out.
One runner in our running club (I’ll call her Rose) suffered from plantar fasciitis for months. She tried many different methods to reduce the pain – icing the arch of her foot, stretching her calves and Achilles tendons, wearing a night splint, and doing special exercises. None of these techniques worked to stop the sensation of walking on glass shards. Rose still joins our weekly get-togethers these days, but as a walker.
Another member (I’ll call him Mike) suffered from degeneration of the cartilage in his hip. His doctor told him he should have hip replacement surgery and that it would end his running days. Mike resisted the operation for as long as possible, then found an orthopedist who assured him that running on his new hip was indeed feasible. He opted for the hip replacement with the new physician and is still running well into his late 70s.
What is it that makes some people thrive in the face of adversity? Why do certain individuals have an extraordinary ability to gather their resources and overcome obstacles? How can I be like them?
One of the characteristics I notice about these individuals is their compassion, not only for others but for themselves as well. They are their own best friend. When adversity strikes, they don’t beat themselves up, or heap blame upon their own head, they are kind to themselves and act as problem-solvers, rather than focusing on culpability.
Another trait of resilient people is they are light on their feet, able to navigate the unexpected with little difficulty. When recovery doesn’t go exactly as planned, they are able to come up with a Plan B, C, or even D. Resourcefulness is a big component of resilience.
The intrinsic belief that you are able to handle adversity, sometimes called self-efficacy, is common in individuals who can overcome trouble. The ability to bounce back, or recover from failure is important.
Finally, a calm, confident attitude builds resilience. I know from experience if I become frantic, anxious, or angry my ability to handle life’s curveballs decreases precipitously. When I believe I can handle adversity, I am more likely to actually be able to overcome hardships.
Lots of external variables affect our ability to recover too, including the existence of a healthy support network and the severity of the misfortune faced. Still, when faced with adversity, I want to learn how to be like Mike. I want to bounce.
“Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.” – Billy Graham
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