According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, resilience means:
The capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress.
In Latin resili( ēns ) means to spring back, to rebound.
It’s a god-like feeling, a brilliant feeling, a feeling that causes a human being to change the world.
Take a walk into an art museum that has an original Picasso, you’ll see an artistic assassin who was sick and tired of the norms installed by a previous generation of artist. He painted the way he felt, not the way he was taught.
His work known as the “Blue Period” is a showcase of resiliency. It was said to take place during a battle with severe bouts of depression, because his friend, Carlos Casagemas, committed suicide. He wasn’t doing it for money, at the time no one was interested in this type of painting. He said, “I started painting in blue when I learned of Casagemas’s death.”
After the Blue Period, Picasso went on to make some of the most creative and inspiring pieces of art ever made.
Today almost every kid who goes to an art class is shown some of Picasso’s “Blue Period” as an example of magnificent art.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross spoke about resilience when she said:
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
Some critics, and historians will argue that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves for only political reasons. I don’t believe that. He freed them because he suffered immensely his entire life with severe depression and he saw the same suffering in the slaves.
Lincoln wrote a few times to his friend Joshua Speed explaining his battle with depression and thoughts of suicide.
Through his own suffering, he was able to build compassion towards others suffering. His depression made him shift his focus to do something god-like—something that changes the world.
In 1854, in his “Peoria Speech” about the Kansas act on slavery he said, “I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our Republican example of its just influence in the world.”
Gandhi spent 21 Years in South Africa. This is where he built up the resiliency and tenacity to change the nation. During this time, Gandhi was thrown off a train in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa because he was of a different color then the other passengers.
This aggravated him, and he stood up and protested. Because of this he was allowed to sit first class the next day. One day, he was beaten by a passenger because he refused to give his seat up to a European passenger.
He encountered numerous injustices while in South Africa, one instance he was asked to take his turban off and he refused.
South Africa was the place where he build the resiliency—to do the impossible.
To take on the British Empire.
At the time the military of the British Empire were proud of themselves. They dressed as if they were prestigious gentlemen.
Gandhi beat them because he acted as more of gentleman then they possibly could be.
The British said that Indians must buy British products. Gandhi wasn’t going to do that, he went out and started to make his own clothing with a wheel and yarn.
He was famous for saying, “A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.”
Martin Luther King Jr. was probably one of the most resilient human-beings in history. He was a clergyman, activist and leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement.
He was greatly influenced by Gandhi to use nonviolent methods to change the political landscape of America.
The word charisma comes from the greek word χάρισμα, meaning “favor given” or “gift of grace.” Through his resiliency and charisma Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. change millions of people lives.
On August 28, 1963, in a speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
The Dalai Lama, whose entire country was stripped from him, instead of hating the Chinese Government, through resiliency offered kindness and compassion.
Steve Jobs arguably one of the most resilient entrepreneurs. He worked tirelessly to build a company only to be kicked out of it in 1985. He then went on to build two successful companies—NeXT Computer and Pixar.
In 1997 he returned back Apple, and put Apple back on the map as one of the most innovative companies in the world
In order to be a complete human being we must study the god-like resilient nature of what it means to be human.
They say a cat has nine lives—a human being with a soul on fire has a thousand lives. In your life you will fail hard, get hurt hard, and come back stronger.
Look to cultivate this beautiful resilient feeling in everything you do and you will amass strength that you never thought possible. Look for the stories in history of human beings who surmounted almost impossible circumstances to go on to change the world.
Editor: Kate Bartolotta