6 ways to become more resilient

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(MoneyWatch) The stories we tell ourselves matter. Two people can look at the exact same set of events -- say, you're traveling for work and can't go to a kid's in-school birthday celebration -- and reach two different conclusions:

- My life is so crazy and chaotic and there's too much going on and I can't have it all! Or

- Isn't it great that my spouse and my parents can attend the school celebration, and I can join them for one at home this weekend?

The latter shows more resilience -- a belief that though not everything goes perfectly, you will make do and come up with other ideas that will also work. People who are resilient can look beyond current crises to see how things can be different in the future. It's an important trait for leaders. So how can you cultivate it?

1. Challenge yourself. Part of resilience is knowing you've faced down obstacles before. Don't shy from a stretch project; hard-won success instills a confidence that sticks.

2. Create back-up plans. Most emergencies are, to a degree, foreseeable. If you're a two-career family with young kids, you need back-up childcare. If you're traveling to give an important presentation, think about what you'd do if the flight was late. Part of resilience is being like a chess master. You already know your next move.

3. Take care of yourself. Everything is more manageable when you're getting enough sleep, exercising and eating properly.

4. Reach out. Strong social ties boost happiness, and also create an emotional bank account. Make deposits now with friends, family and neighbors, and they'll be there if you need them later.

5. Make a list of proven mood boosters. Knowing you have a happiness toolkit (a run? a milkshake?) makes you feel more in control.

6. Don't expect perpetual relaxation. The opening lines of M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled sum it up: Life is difficult. Resilient people celebrate what goes right rather than lamenting what goes wrong.

Have you learned to be more resilient?

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