When reflecting on the life of the late President Nelson Mandela, a multitude of virtues and strengths were highlighted by world centres, colleagues, friends and ordinary people like myself.
No one can dispute that the sacrifices he made to create a better society is humbling to all of us. But to my mind, what really stands out about this great man is his resilience, optimism and the ability he had to always create hope.
His positive spirit was an inspiration to everybody. The question I ask myself is: How can we carry that spirit forward?
It is not an easy task. And to many it does not come naturally.
This reminded me of an interview I read earlier this year with Prof Barbara Fredrickson published in the Rotman Magazine Spring 2013. She is a world authority in positive psychology and has done ground-breaking research in the field of positive psychology with an emphasis on how we can foster it.
One of the questions asked was: “Some people crumble in the face of hardship, while others bounce back. Why is this?”
Her answer was quite insightful:
When my colleagues and I study people who bounce back, we find that one of their secret ingredients for resilience is an ability to self-generate positive emotions – even during the toughest times.It’s not that these people are Pollyannas who put their heads in the sand and ignore all the bad things around them; but they are able to hold the negative and the positive side by side.
For example, if a natural disaster occurs, they will acknowledge the tragedy of it, but they’re able still to say, “Well, at least I’m not in this alone,” and they take comfort from that. They might feel grateful for the support they receive from others, or think, “I could really learn something from this experience,” and use it as a source of inspiration.
The key to being resilient is to not let all of your positive emotions go completely out the window when things go bad: acknowledge the negative emotions that are appropriate to the situation, but keep your eyes out for a silver lining, or at least, something that can be appreciated about the situation.
For your convenience, I have linked the complete article (which also includes a positivity self-test). Click here to download this article now…
I think we are a great number of partners who have the ability to create a climate of optimism, hope and resilience together. And if we pursue these ideals consistently day-to-day, in so doing we can in a small way continue to live out the legacy of Madiba.