Understanding Resilience and
Why it’s Important in Building Thriving Communities
Every individual is unique. Some of us may be able to bounce back quickly when something bad happens. For others, it may take days, months, even years. Resilience is a measure of our ability to successfully adapt to adversity. Our genetic make-up, as well as our life experiences, play a role in determining how resilient we are. Of course, families and parents play a big role, but community members such as teachers, coaches, and caregivers can also play a significant role. The videos below, from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, help to explain what resilience is, the science behind it, and how it’s built.
Notably, the videos above deal with children, but it is possible to build resilience in youth and adults. In life, we deal with all kinds of adversity. The faster and more successful we are at recovering from adversity, the better off we are, our families are, and our communities are, and the less likely we are to be impacted by the many negative physical and emotional outcomes that can result from serious trauma.
Here are some steps you can take to help build resilience in yourself and others.
When we build supportive, nurturing relationships with friends and family, we are not only nurturing others, we are nurturing ourselves. Just think of how good it makes you feel when you do something to help others. Here are some specific ways you can help make positive connections with others.
- Volunteer for an organization or cause you care about
- Help an elderly person in your community
- Spend quality (technology free) time with a youth
- Acknowledge/reinforce a strength you noticed in a friend or family member
- Spend time with a new parent and offer support
- Visit or call someone who lost a loved one in the past year
Advocate for Policies that Support Resilience
Policies that support resilience are policies that support children and families. People need a safe, affordable place to live — free from the fear of gun violence and homelessness. We need high-quality, affordable childcare and schools where children can learn and thrive. We should avoid taxes and fines that disproportionately impact poor and working class families and individuals. Economic development and jobs that are accessible to urban communities are essential for communities to thrive. Families need safe parks and green spaces for recreation. This is just a small sampling of the types of policies needed to support resilient, thriving communities.