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Resilience Calls for Nurturing, Officials Say

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2014 – Learning to be resilient requires practice, two high-level Defense Department officials said at the “Building Resilience in Women Leaders Summit” today.

Jessica L. Wright, acting undersecretary of personnel and readiness and Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Carol A. Eggert, assistant adjutant general, Pennsylvania National Guard and deputy commandant, U.S. Army War College, addressed the summit’s audience in a daylong event as part of Womens History Month, sponsored by the Defense Suicide Prevention Office.

“Humor is part of my resiliency toolkit. It is a coping strategy,” Wright said. Quoting silent-film era comic actor Charlie Chaplin, she added, “To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain and play with it.”

The undersecretary said she is a self-taught resilient person, but also an experiment in progress. “I learn every day,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re in uniform or out of uniform to be resilient. And you must learn to be resilient to be successful during your life,” Wright said.

“Resiliency is the ability to face challenges and persevere. It is not something you’re born with,” she noted. “It’s something you foster, mentor, maintain, grow and work at every single day. You can only groom and hone that skill if you practice it.”

Referencing the book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” by Rabbi Harold Samuel Kushner, Wright said rather than waste time on “why” something bad happened, when that question has no answer, it’s more productive to focus on “What am I going to do about it?”

A silver bullet doesn’t exist for becoming resilient, Wright pointed out, but she named some qualities that help: intestinal fortitude, perseverance, a sense of humor, the ability and the desire to work through a situation in a positive manner.

“It’s not the same ... for everybody,” she added.

Different personalities, backgrounds and how one works through issues apply when reaching a resilient state, she noted.

Eggert also is a student of resilience, she said.

One way to define resilience is to withstand, recover and grow, Eggert said.

“You can’t just make it through it,” she said. “You have to bounce back and grow from whatever challenges you face.”

People have a natural instinct to look for the negative side of situations, Eggert noted. To do so, she introduced to the audience what she called, “the good stuff,” to counteract the negative.

“It’s whatever makes [you] smile or feel good,” she said.

“Studies have proven if you actively hunt ‘the good stuff,’ you will sleep better, be more fit because you won’t mind exercising, your health will be better, your blood pressure will go down, relationships will thrive, and you’ll feel more positive,” Eggert said.

“By looking for the good stuff, you feel gratitude. And gratitude and attitude will make you appreciate your life,” she said.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkAFPS

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Biographies:
Jessica L. Wright

Related Sites:
Defense Suicide Prevention Office
Special Report: Women's History Month
Special Report: Suicide Prevention and Awareness



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