When I think of resiliency in modern day terms, I think of my friend Ariana Huffington, who, as a sixteen-year-old from Greece, entered Girton College at Cambridge University. She decided to join a debate team; the highly recognized Cambridge Union Society.

As you can imagine, each year brought its own challenges for a young woman with a foreign accent, participating on an English debate team. Yet, she never gave up, and by the fourth year, Arianna became the first woman captain of the Cambridge Union Society. This, is a perfect example of resiliency

As you can see, resilient people have particular characteristics in common. They have a “can do” spirit. Believing, on a very deep level that whatever comes up, they can handle it. Thus, they have a strong sense of feeling capable and optimistic.

Resilient people have a good sense of themselves, and therefore, have the ability to set priorities. They do not use up energy to try and please others and therefore are interiorly inoculated against peer pressure.

Resilient people are independent thinkers and use their energy on things that they can control, rather than wasting time and energy on things that are out of their sphere of influence. Resilient people move forward in their lives and do not get paralyzed by either pain or suffering. There is a woman in France who lived to be one-hundred and twenty-two and a half years old. She outlived almost everyone close to her. Thus, pain and suffering visited her door, but did not close it.

And finally, like compassion, and empathy resiliency can be taught. And by teaching yourself and your children how to be resilient, your life and theirs can be lived with courage, passion, and joy.

How to Teach Resiliency

  1. Self-manage negative self-talk through dialogue and confrontation. This, requires a reality check on the interior conversation coming to you from a less secure place. These messages are no longer appropriate, or reflect who you are today.
  2. Listen to your positive inner voice, your true vocation. You can access your unconscious in this way, through methods such as meditation, journaling, private time for contemplation, and dream work. And, if you lack a positive inner voice, practice and rehearse what it feels like to have constructive feedback…then you will create a new habit of resiliency.
  3. Restoration and sleep. My mother’s message to me was always “restoration”. Take time to allow your body to restore itself and heal.  This is a wonderful way to reduce stress and revive a sense of balance and well-being. Even children get cranky when they are sleepy. And when you are sleep deprived, you can view the world through a much more emotional lense.
  4. Don’t take missteps personally – but rather see mistakes as teaching opportunities…. from which to learn and grow.
  5. Self-choice. Meditation and breathing exercises give you the time out you need to step back and be objective, so that you can make rational choices, rather than be compelled by reactive behavior. And be flexible, so that you are not locked into untenable situations, always allowing yourself the option to change your mind and see things from a new perspective.
  6. Stay on target, know yourself so that you can establish realistic goals. This allows you to think creatively, opening up and unlocking new and collateral avenues of opportunity.
  7. Competence creates confidence, and good self-esteem is based on experience. Starting in small ways, by eating a banquet feast one bite at a time, allows you to connect and build an inner core, for both you and your children. In that way, you can approach problems with a sense of empowerment.
  8. Finally, be authentic. My favorite line in a movie came from “Out of Africa,” when Robert Redford tells Meryl Streep, that when he comes to the end of his life, he has to know that he came to the end of his life, and not somebody else’s idea of how he should live it. For, only in this way can you establish a real relationship with friends, partners, family, children, and so forth. People have to know you, to like you and love you – be true to yourself, and as the saying goes:

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at EmpowHER.com since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Amazon.com. Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.