The link between resilience and wellbeing
‘I get knocked down, but I get up again’.
‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’
‘Keep calm and carry on’.
Popular culture is full of references to resilience and the ability to cope with and bounce back from life’s challenges. But while it’s clear that resilience helps us to survive setbacks, could it also help us to thrive?
According to the research, people who reported higher levels of resilience also reported higher levels of wellbeing*, job satisfaction, and happiness in the workplace**. In addition, hardiness, the primary psychological factor of resilience, has been found to predict improved quality of life, personal growth, and happiness***. This suggests that resilience could be the key to a more contented and flourishing life.
But these studies raise an important question. Does being resilient make you happier? Or does being happy make you more resilient?
Well, it is thought that the relationship between resilience and wellbeing is actually reciprocal in nature and therefore they both influence each other*.
A greater level of wellbeing can lead to improved resiliency. This is because experiencing positive emotions more frequently helps us build the resources we need to keep dealing with difficult situations****. Think of it like a bucket of water that starts leaking. If you have more water in the bucket to start with, it will take longer for it to fully empty.
Now imagine that you try to fix the bucket. If you are able to deal with the leak effectively, then you will be able to stop any more water from being wasted. In the same way, a higher level of resilience helps to protect and maintain our wellbeing as we go through life. This is because we are better able to cope with challenges and less likely to experience the negative effects of stress***. Wellbeing is also often related to our perception of the circumstances around us** and therefore a more resilient person, who tends to see setbacks as learning opportunities, is likely to experience a greater sense of wellbeing, even when times are tough.
So, if you want to improve your wellbeing, consider developing your resilience. Instead of just simply trying to survive, you might find you start to truly thrive.
Learn more about developing your resilience and the Hardiness Resilience Gauge.
*Mguni, N., Bacon, N., & Brown, J. F. (2012). The wellbeing and resilience paradox. London: The Young Foundation.
**Youssef, C. M., & Luthans, F. (2007). Positive organizational behavior in the workplace: The impact of hope, optimism, and resilience. Journal of Management, 33(5), 774-800.
*** MHS Staff. (2018). Hardiness Resilience Gauge Technical Manual. Toronto: Multi-Health Systems Inc.
****Tonkin, K., Malinen, S., Näswall, K., & Kuntz, J. C. (2018). Building employee resilience through wellbeing in organizations. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 29(2), 107-124.