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Resilience (Book Review)

written by Fiona Parashar 9 May 2011

Fiona Parashar, MAPP UEL, 2009 runs Leadership Coaching in the UK, specialising in positive psychology coaching to build flourishing leaders and teams in the media, advertising, and communications sectors. Twitter: @fiparashar

Fiona's articles are here.

Editor’s Note: We recently reissued the first book in the Positive Psychology News series, Resilience: How to navigate life’s curves, with an added chapter that pulls together all the points made in the original 16 chapters.

Companion Dog

   Companion Dog

Never in our generation have we needed resilience so much en masse, as we find ourselves in times of austerity, budget cuts, unprecedented job losses, divorce numbers, mental illness escalating and on it goes… Resilience: How to navigate life’s curves, edited by Senia Maymin and Kathryn Britton, is a collection of some of the finest articles on the subject selected from Positive Psychology News Daily. The cream book, of 130 pages, is a good size to drop into a briefcase for an uplifting read on the train or to gently rest on a side table as an encouraging reminder that advice is near should life start to get bumpy.

   Cover image: Compass for Navigation

The book is divided into four parts: resilience in advance, resilience in the moment, resilience over time, and resilience in action. Already reading the contents page you feel a lightening of the mental load, a sense that help is at hand. A few guiding thoughts exist in these headings, for example, the very thought that we can plan resilience in advance is resilience-enhancing in itself.

This is an uplifting book offering inspiring and healing concepts such as the qualities leading to resilience being so commonplace that they have been coined “ordinary magic.” The introduction sets the scene well with a reminder that positive psychology is not positive thinking; it is about how to flourish in the bad times as well as the good.

We need to be able to understand and activate resilience. Positive psychology is like many of the human sciences, it ought to be riveting. After all, it is describing us as humans in all our glory. But somehow, often it falls short of the mark. Often the jargon is enough to create an immediate switch-off for people outside academia. This book shows us, through a well-constructed series of articles, how to build resilience in our life – in layman’s talk.

Belly Laugh

The layout is inviting, a dip in, dip out sort of a book. The mix of style and approaches means we’re able to access the research on resilience from many different angles. So often with self-help books, you retain only 1 or 2 key points. With 17 chapters in this tome, each one suggesting resilience in different contexts, sharing models, tips, ideas and research, there is an opportunity to take away 1 or 2 nuggets from each chapter, such is the diversity of writers and the richness of stories, borrowed, shared or re-told. In these stories are hidden tips and techniques and a light touch about the science that supports it.

Each chapter ends with a “discussion”. The inclusion of comments in response to each article as it was published online creates a lively format, similar to the feeling of connection you get at the Q&A section after listening to a great keynote speaker. This part, an opportunity to genuinely connect with the speaker, is often more accessible and down to earth. Similarly in this book the “discussion” helps to bring to life the manner in which we can apply some of the ideas to our own lives.

  APE as a Resilience Mnemonic

These discussions really bring the book to life and differentiate it from a self-help book. So often, when reading self-help you’re left with that feeling of… yes I know what I should do to… lose weight, get happier, manage my time better etc …but and it is a big BUT … how do I motivate myself to do it?

First Steps

The fight back from the baffled reader is reflected through the voice of Jeff. I found his ripostes, queries, and clarifying questions particularly rewarding. I laughed out loud with recognition as the discussions voiced what I, as a business coach sharing positive psychology, often get faced with. It’s when the theory hits the real world, like the rubber hits the track, with a squeal and lots of spinning until some traction takes place. The discussion points are the traction that make the theory come to life… and helps us readers (I include myself here, even though I have a masters degree in positive psychology) to “GET IT”.

I suspect this book would be rather a good gift for a teacher, nurse, coach, therapist, trauma worker or anyone who would like to be up to date with resilience and wanting ideas of models, tips, exercises or stories to use with or share with their clients, patients or pupils. Or for anyone who might simply want help on how to navigate one of life’s curves.



Resilience has a companion book: Gratitude: How to Appreciate Life’s Gifts. Here’s a link to the review by Aaron Jarden. In 2015, we added a third book to the series, Character Strengths Matter: How to Life a Full Life.

Cover image courtesy of art_es_anna
All other images are reproductions of illustrations from the book, drawn by artist Kevin Gillespie. Check out his Web site for other illustrations of this book and the book on gratitude.

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