Imagine being a ten year old child during the London blitz. On the first night your house is being bombed by the Luftwaffe, you and your parents rush to the Underground, where you sit in the dark for hours. Tense as the situation is, it gets worse when the exit is blocked by debris from the bombing and you and hundreds of others must wait, not only for the bombing raid to end, but to be dug out.
After you get dug out, you go back to your life.
I did not invent the London blitz scenario. A friend (now deceased) lived through it. Aside from a reluctance to being in dark enclosed spaces (such as movie theaters or red eye flights), she lived a long, happy and successful life. She firmly believed that resilience can be learned, just as she had.
Many years ago I came across an excellent book by sports psychologist Jim Loehr, Toughness Training for Life: A Revolutionary Program for Maximizing Health, Happiness and Productivity, which changed my life.
Loehr’s thesis is that you can develop everyday habits that will help you cope with life’s stresses. His approach includes physical activity, mental focusing, and developing healthy personal habits (such as healthy eating and avoiding smoking, drugs, etc.). Once these habits are ingrained, they become valuable tools through which you will overcome life’s travails.
Physical activity, mental focusing, and developing healthy personal habits are exactly the tools my friend and her family in wartime London relied on; in their case they also relied on their Faith as part of their focus.
Why is this approach important?
From his more than 30 years of experience and applied research, Dr. Loehr believes the single most important factor in successful achievement, personal fulfillment and life satisfaction is the strength of one’s character. He strongly contends that character strength can be built in the same way that muscle strength is built through energy investment.
Rather than counseling, vigils, safe spaces and coloring books, I recommend that colleges across the nation hand out copies of this book and make it required reading. Add that to Pete’s approach and you might get your students to become realized persons.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.