Hope and Resilience

How can we inculcate hope and resilience into our everyday lives? Resilience is defined as the ability to stretch and bounce back, no matter what challenges we may face throughout our lives. Being resilient means drawing on our resources and inner strengths, such as hope and optimism, to work through life’s challenges.

Resilience is also strongly connected to happiness. Lopez and Snyder (2009) indicate in their research that key protective factors of psychological resilience include possessing positive self-image and faith, as well as an ability to problem solve, adapt, and self-regulate. The community we live in also plays a role in the development of resilience. Good public safety and health care availability contribute to a more positive, resilient society.

Even if living conditions were less than favorable, it is never too late for us to develop our resilience. Resilience is not a personality trait, but a process of learning and conditioning. When resilient people perceive a crisis, they do not believe it to be unsolvable. Rather, they look for personal growth and development throughout each perceived crisis. We can learn resilience by learning to take on a perspective in moments of stress. For example, we can do this by looking at the bigger picture and placing our own situation within it to see just how difficult our crisis really is as opposed to how difficult we perceive it to be.

Resilient people maintain a positive perspective, seeing failures as opportunities for growth, feedback, and motivation, rather than something negative. Resilience thrives in positive environments; therefore, we should always surround ourselves with positive people, and even pay for the opportunity to be influenced by a moral example, writes well-known Jewish philosopher and physician Maimonides.

“Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

- Joshua J. Marine

King David's Hope and Resilience

The Jewish people were faced with challenges throughout the ages. The most famous example is King David, who was faced with numerous trials and tribulations, yet he showed resilience, the ability to bounce back and trust fully in G-d’s will. David was pursued by King Saul, who sought to murder him out of jealousy. Each and every time, David hoped and trusted in G-d, showing resilience and hope for a better future, as he attempted to make peace with King Saul. Despite David’s unsuccessful attempts to reach out to King Saul in peace, G-d protected David and even gave King Saul into David’s hands. David could have killed Saul, but he did not do so to prove that he was not governed by his internal desires and he would not succumb to Saul’s level. Rather, David’s resilience, trust in G-d, and his refined characteristics made him suited to be the king of Israel.

Taking it to the Next Level

Taking hope and resilience to the next level, the  Sages teach, “Initiate a peaceful greeting to every person.” (Avoth 4:20) Every person includes even people who bear us ill will. When we initiate a peaceful greeting, we can awaken feelings of love within our foe. But should our foe not wish to make amends, G-d will deliver our foe into our hands, as he did with King Saul and David.

“But if he does not make peace with you, G-d shall

deliver him into your hand…” (Deuteronomy 20:12-13)

When we show an ability to hope and be resilient by bouncing back from trials and tribulations and hoping in G-d, G-d will reward us, as he rewarded our ancestors and their unwavering faith in Him. Miriam, sister of Moses, was the first to set the redemption from Egypt in motion. She prophesized that a savior would be born to the Jewish people and redeem them from slavery. When she left Egypt, Miriam took out her tambourine and began to sing with the women songs of celebration and praise for G-d.

“Then the prophetess Miriam, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women came out following her with tambourines and dancing.” (Exodus 15:20)

Where did Miriam get her tambourine from? She kept it throughout her years of slavery in Egypt, even when it seemed that there was no end in sight, she awaited the day when G-d would finally redeem her and her people in perfect faith, taking her hope and resilience and elevating it to the next level.. G-d rewarded her belief by following through and taking the Jewish people out of Egypt.

“Commit your way to G-d; trust in Him and He will do.” (Psalms 37:5)

Hope and Resilience to Jewish Positive Psychology