With the help of our resident Positive Psychology and Philosophy sage (and friend!) Taylor Kreiss, this month we went deep into one of our absolute favorite topics: Resilience. Guided by some of our favorite thinkers including Epictetus, Ryan Holiday, Brian Johnson, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Mary Oliver, here are a few things we learned about resilience this month:

1. Resilience helps us make sense of things.

Researchers who study how we move forward after traumatic life events find that many people see their most challenging moments as what brought about the most personal growth in their lives. Psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun even coined the term “post-traumatic growth” to refer to this phenomenon — but we’re guessing it doesn’t sound all that radical to you. Many of us relate to our challenges this way, and while we shouldn’t wish trauma or suffering upon ourselves, it’s easy to see how our most painful moments of grief, sadness, sickness, or pain shape who we are.
Think about the hardest thing you are going through right now. In a year, how might you feel about it? What will it teach you?

We dive deeper into the events that shaped our lives in this month’s Resilience Guide.

2. Look to the wise.

When something difficult happens in your life, who do you turn to? Who do you go to for advice, for guidance, for comfort? Is there someone in your life (or even a writer or artist you admire) that has overcome hardship? Who is the most resilient person you know? This may seem obvious, but often gets overlooked when we’re in our darker moments. Reaching out not only helps us feel less alone in our pain, but might be the key to learning new coping strategies, gaining comforting insight, and serving as a reminder that eventually we’ll be on the other side of whatever we’re going through.

We reflect on the advice of our resilient heroes in this month’s Curated Resources.

3. It’s essential to know what’s within our control (and what’s not).

The Stoics offer us this important lesson: when we separate our concerns into what we can and can’t control, we’re better equipped to handle daily stress and anxiety. Think about how much time we spend (maybe even waste, TBH) worrying about things that we really have no ability to change. When we’re able to make this distinction from moment to moment and practice monitoring our thoughts and concerns, we’re able to focus on what we can impact. This allows us to put our energy into the right things instead of senseless worry. There’s power in knowing and practicing this kind of control — and letting go of everything else. 💪

We explore this lesson and others from the Stoics in our Resilience Guide this month.   

4. Breath is key.

Lucky for us, one of the most helpful tools for building resilience is something we all do every day (really, every minute of every day): breathing! We know, we know. Breathing exercises? Really? Just hear us out: every day each of us will face any number of obstacles — rejection, making mistakes, things not going as planned, or judgement. The goal isn’t to be immune to feeling sad, disappointed, or hurt (all natural and normal parts of being human), rather, to build a kind of daily resilience that helps us move forward despite those feelings. Sometimes resilience is about getting from one moment to the next. And taking a few minutes for controlled, intentional breath is one of the best ways to do this. 👌

We share one of our favorite super-simple breathing exercises in this month’s Resilience Guide.

5. Empathy is everything.

Researcher and writer Brené Brown has spent much of her life studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She reminds us that much of our strength as humans lies in our shared struggle, in our ability to connect and know that we’re not alone in our mistakes and faults, and see the light in each other despite all of it. In her powerful TED talk “Listening to Shame,” she shares this important reminder:

“If we're going to find our way back to each other, we have to understand and know empathy, because empathy's the antidote to shame. If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount in a petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can't survive. The two most powerful words when we're in struggle: me too.”

Shame is the ultimate villain in our quest to move forward after pain or trauma. It tricks us into thinking that we somehow deserve our suffering, that we’re not worthy of love or healing. So if empathy is the antidote to shame, then empathy must be an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to building resilience. ❤️


Hey, Members. 👋 Don’t forget to check out this month’s theme page to access the Resilience Guide, Curated Resources, and the beautiful Resilience Art Digital Downloads to go a little deeper into each of these concepts and keep the theme at the front of your mind this month!  



Jennifer Lioy is a writer, designer, illustrator, feelings-haver, and all-things-doer at Holstee (technically, the Creative and Communications Lead if anyone important is asking). She lives in Austin, TX and eats breakfast tacos every day. If given the chance, she will corner you in a bar to ask you what you’re afraid of.

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This article is part of our series on the theme of Resilience.

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