A Buddhist Approach to Resilience

Jeff Valdivia
7 min readMar 18, 2020

Do you want to be more at ease with whatever comes?

Photo by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash

How did you feel the last time your lawnmower broke down?

What about when you were stuck in rush-hour traffic, late for an appointment?

Or, when your flight was delayed and that meant you’d miss your connection?

Did you immediately look for someone to blame? Did you want to scream at the top of your lungs? Did you let fly all the four-letter expletives that came to mind?

Did you ask, Why me? Why now?

Everyone gets upset when things don’t go their way. This is normal. But, don’t we also know something must go wrong eventually?

I mean, don’t we know that someone’s lawnmower will break down today? Don’t we know that someone will be late because of traffic today? Don’t we know that someone will miss a connection because of a delayed flight today?

Of course we know this, and yet it’s unthinkable that they should happen to us.

So, when they do inevitably happen, we can’t believe our misfortune. We stomp around, furious, like a four-year-old who’s just been denied a second Oreo.

What’s going on here?

Buddhism offers an explanation for this kind of unpleasantness and, thankfully, a cure.

Do you want to be more resilient when life goes sideways?

What is “resilience”, anyway?

According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.” Being resilient doesn’t mean you won’t ever again experience significant distress or difficulty — it just means you will cope with it better when you do.

Lucky for us, resilience isn’t something we either have or don’t. Resilience can be learned. Just like a muscle, there are things we can do to train ourselves to be more resilient in the face of adversity.

Jeff Valdivia

Following my curiosity and hoping it will lead me to wisdom. I write about psychology, meditation, self-development, and spirituality.