Gratitude- Cultivating gratitude brings us more things to be grateful for. Begin a practice of writing down everything you are grateful for. It is easy to lose sight of all the things in our life that are good. Begin a gratitude journal. Being grateful changes one’s perspective and ultimately brings us joy and builds resiliency.

Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maria Hudak.

Maria Hudak is a highly experienced life and health coach with over 12 years of experience in helping individuals achieve their goals and live a fulfilling life. She provides a supportive and empowering environment to explore challenges, identify strengths and develop skills to overcome obstacles and achieve goals. Maria offers a holistic approach to coaching, considering every aspect of her clients’ lives, and provides practical tools and strategies to help them stay motivated, focused, and on track toward achieving their goals.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

I have always enjoyed helping others. It is in my DNA. I spent decades helping others in my career as Respiratory Therapist and Registered Nurse. While I was able to help many, I never felt that I could help them on a deeper level. Patients would return again and again for the same medical issues because their lifestyles had not changed. Thus, I turned to Health and Life Coaching so that I could help others change in powerful and transformative ways. Changes that would bring them healthier and happier lives.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

One of my interesting stories is about a woman in the middle of her life. She had raised her children and had focused all of her attention on her husband and children. She had been carrying this dream of going back to school and getting her Master’s Degree for 25 years. When we began, she had a myriad of reasons why she couldn’t do it. Many of those reasons were not valid but her limiting self beliefs had her believing they were. We developed a plan of breaking her goal into small steps she would accomplish each week. After just a short amount of time working together, she was accepted into three MFT programs. Today she is working as a therapist and has a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment she did not have before. The “takeaways” I learned that it is never too late and everything is possible if broken down into small steps.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My business is called “Joy From the Inside.” I believe Joy is always possible and starts from within. I believe what makes me stand out is that I first create a safe container for my clients. I develop rapport and trust first, I feel clients will thrive and expand only if they feel they are safe. All of my sessions and programs are created specifically for each client. I do not offer a cookie-cutter experience, each client is unique and deserves a unique approach. I have had clients who were reticent to begin sharing their goals with me. I approached slowly and thoughtfully until they were ready to share more. Developing trust is key.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There have been many who have supported me on my journey but it was my grandmother who impacted me the most. She was the first person who really “saw” me. I had a traumatic childhood and often felt alone and unseen, she loved me unconditionally, and she yet, never said a lot. It was all in the way she looked into my eyes and in her actions, she made me feel special and that I could accomplish anything. Although she had a difficult life, she never gave up and instilled that in me.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

To be resilient means going through difficult times and not giving up. Resilient people remind themselves they have done hard things before. They can do it again. They anchor themselves to what can be, not what was. They allow themselves to grieve but then they take action. They keep moving forward. They are compassionate to themselves and others. They realize failure is often a gift. It points one in a different and often better path.

Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different from resilience?

Courage is about pushing oneself out of their comfort zone, being courageous means allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Resilience is about accepting that things change but don’t have to end. Resilience is about being curious, it is about shifting paths. But mostly, resilience is about being willing to rebuild again and again with the belief that better things are ahead.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

My sister. She has survived and suffered through the worst kinds of trauma. She allows herself time to grieve and heal. No matter what she goes through, she always emerges with hope and childlike wonder about what is possible next. She appreciates the small things in life, she works at staying grounded and optimistic.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

I was always made to believe I was weak physically and I was not allowed to pursue sports or dancing. Later in life, I began to exercise and dance and loved it. I fell into a slump in my fifties and was out of shape. I signed up to train for a 100-mile bike race! This was particularly insane as I had never ridden a road bike. My partner at the time didn’t think I had it in me, I completed the training and the race. I was tremendously proud of myself. It was a huge accomplishment for me and through the experience, I was able to raise a lot of money for a charity close to my heart. I learned I truly am strong.

Did you have a time in your life when you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

Just a few years ago, I was struggling to breathe. I was told over and over again that I had asthma, but because of my training as a respiratory therapist, I knew something else was going on. Prior to this problem, I had an active lifestyle. I particularly enjoyed hiking. As my condition worsened, I became unable to walk one block without having to stop several times to catch my breath. It was so scary. Doctors were not listening to me. I was later diagnosed with a life-threatening condition called tracheal stenosis. I had to really advocate for myself and ask to see multiple specialists. I finally underwent surgery and treatment, I am back to my active lifestyle and couldn’t be more grateful that I did advocate for myself. I really found my voice through this experience and now help others find theirs.

How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

I lost many relatives and some close friends as a child, this taught me about the impermanence in life. I learned to be present throughout my life, and I learned to be grateful for having shared time with these loved ones, even if only for a short time. I learned joy can be found again after loss. I was also a dreamer. Holding onto dreams helped me move forward and create a new vision for myself, time and time again.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient?

  1. Gratitude- Cultivating gratitude brings us more things to be grateful for. Begin a practice of writing down everything you are grateful for. It is easy to lose sight of all the things in our life that are good.Begin a gratitude journal. Being grateful changes one’s perspective and ultimately brings us joy and builds resiliency.
  2. Self-compassion- Learning to stop criticizing, isolating, or ruminating over your actions leads to self-compassion. Self-compassion means being kind to yourself. Choosing kind words to say to yourself and understanding that everyone goes through difficult times. Suffering is part of the human condition. You are not alone in this. Learning mindfulness also helps us manage our inner critic.
  3. Support- Lean into support in your dark times. Be willing to ask for help. Be willing to be vulnerable. Seek support from family, friends, community resources, faith-based support, therapy, or a life coach. Avoid isolating yourself. Remember you are not alone.Journaling can also be beneficial. I do a “brain dump” each night. I write down all of my thoughts. This helps remind me that thoughts are fleeting and change. Thoughts are like clouds that float away. Be curious and open to new ideas and other perspectives. Question your own beliefs that are limiting. Are those beliefs really true? Think of a time you struggled but overcame. You can do it again.
  4. Nature- Nature is a wonderful way to reset the nervous system and helps you get out of the stress response of fight, flight, or freeze. Spend time in nature when going through difficult times. Get outside for a few minutes each day. If there is no nature to be found around you, close your eyes and feel the sun on your face. These simple actions can help regulate the nervous system. And focus on taking deep conscious breaths-try deep belly breathing for at least ten breaths at a time. If meditation is difficult for you, try doing a walking meditation. Bring your attention to your body. Feel your feet on the ground. Notice the birdsong around you, the plants and trees. Notice the sun on your face.
  5. Hold On- Do only what is right in front of you in difficult times. Wash the dishes, take the dog for a walk, make dinner, etc. Hold on to all the good in your life and remember this too shall pass. Hold onto your dreams and goals. Take time for self-care. Work on creating a vision for your future, then break it down into small steps. Keep going. Try a technique like future pacing. Draw a picture in your mind of what you want your future to look like. Then imagine being this person. Breathe into that vision. What is your future self feeling, doing. What are they wearing? Who are they with? Where are they living? Just like a great work of art, it is imagined in the mind first. Future pacing creates new pathways in the brain which leads to making empowered decisions.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would start a movement of self-compassion! Every single day, I hear people say unkind things to themselves. I want to stop that.I want to shut down everyone’s harsh inner critic. I want people to accept themselves fully. I want people to fall in love with themselves again. Can you imagine the power we could have if we loved and accepted ourselves?And love and accept each other? We would be unstoppable!

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

I am inspired by Brene Brown. Her work on shame, guilt, and vulnerability was life-changing for me. She made me see how my vulnerability, which I thought was my greatest weakness, turned out to be my greatest gift. I would love to sit down with her and hear her talk about what new work she is doing now. And how we can all learn to be more authentic. I would want her to share her vision of how we can move forward together as a nation.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can find me on the zant app or on my Instagram page @joyfromtheinside.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.