Micro-resilience – the art of navigating life’s little bumps (2)
by Jan Niemand
In the first article of this series (check out the first article for details here), I mentioned that there is a distinct difference between extreme cases of resilience (for instance, surviving on a rubber lifeboat at sea for 3 months) and micro-resilience. Micro-resilience is the ability to handle the little bumps of life. You know, those surprises that do not kill you, but over time can seriously dampen your spirit.
To continue with our own story of micro-resilience after our Toyota Corolla was stolen. It’s about a month after the incident, and I’ve picked up a few patterns which I thought would be worth your time. What do I mean by “patterns”? A governing force in human life (whether biological, psychological or even economical) is homeostasis. Homeostasis is science-speak for balance (kind of). Homeostasis means after an “upset” to your system (you stood up quickly from a chair, had the biggest fright of your life or, let’s say, your family car was stolen…) you want to return to a state of “normal” as quickly as you can. You want a new status quo so to speak (you feel slightly light-headed but soon recover, you calm down after the fright, or start looking for a new car, for example).
But here’s the trick. Unintentional homeostasis can be very unhelpful in the long run. The new “normal” or status quo can, if not guided with intent and purpose, can genuinely turn life’s little bumps into serious detours. So how do we prevent this?
- Realise that a little bump can have a lot of time-consuming spin-offs
Believe it or not, no single aspect of your life is separate from the others. In other words, you build little patterns around everything (your house’s location, the nearest grocery store… the availability of your car). When a bump hits you, it does not affect the single thing, it affects the network of patterns in your life. A little bump can, in fact, have very profound effects on your rhythms.
- Resist quick solutions
Most of us are quite familiar, and quite frankly OK with the first point. However, once the full effects of a little bump start to eat their way into your time, comfort and other patterns things can get tough. For instance, finding a new car that falls in your budget might prove to be a little bit trickier than expected at first. Or your spouse might not be as comfortable about a high insurance premium on that particular car. Or you are frustrated by paperwork that is causing serious delays in the whole decision-making process… It is when these things start cropping up that one should resist quick solutions. Unless the need is really pressing, remain calm and breathe… Just breathe… And make the BEST decision available to you. Get all your facts straight, speak to people until you are comfortable and don’t rush things. You are the one who will have to take responsibility for the decision you make after life’s little bumps.
Rather embrace a time of discomfort than forcing a decision which is not value-driven.
- Don’t settle for interims
Interim solutions are great. They help us get by until we are ready to make our next quality decision. However, temporary solutions have a tendency to become rather permanent. This is the opposite of point 2 but can be just as tempting – making an interim permanent. For instance, a friend offers to borrow you their car for the month until your paperwork is sorted out. This is brilliant! You don’t have to hire a car, which saves some money. However, the temporary ease of discomfort is just a short break. This borrowed car does not mean that one can delay a quality decision indefinitely. Sounds a bit like common sense, right? But we all do it. We settle for interims. A shining (and hilarious) example is of a friend whose fridge broke. So he started researching fridge prices… how much will a new one cost? Or is it better to fix it themselves? Where are the best parts? So expensive?! No! A new fridge then… What?! That much for a fridge? No way!
You get the idea. This went on, wait for it, for 3 years. Yep, 3 whole years living WITHOUT a fridge. They adjusted their entire grocery buying patterns to accommodate the missing fridge (well, it wasn’t missing. It was standing there. Broken as always). Not making a quality decision to actually buy (or fix) the fridge, cost them MORE over the long run than three whole fridges!
So, when you actually start to handle life’s little bumps, make sure that you 1) realise that you will probably have to repattern your life, 2) make a quality decision that you will be able to take responsibility for, and 3) don’t settle for temporary solutions which become kind of permanent.