Coping with failure

Rejection is an inescapable fact of life, and our ability to deal with failure has a hand in determining how successful and happy we are says Carolyn Gregoire.

Updated: Jan 09, 2014, 00:42 AM IST

Rejection is an inescapable fact of life, and our ability to deal with failure has a hand in determining how successful and happy we are says Carolyn Gregoire.

Happiness isn`t the opposite of depression -- resilience is, according to a psychologist Peter Kramer. Think of the people you most admire -- many of them didn’t get where they are just by sailing through life without any negative experiences or failures. Most of them distinguished themselves by their ability to get right back up every time they fall, a truism reflected in countless inspirational quotations on the power of perseverance. In the words of Winston Churchill, "It is the courage to continue that counts."

So how do resilient people differ from those who become paralysed by every failure and setback?

Here are seven habits of highly resilient people -- and ways that you can improve your own ability to cope with challenges. They fully experience both positive and negative emotions.

Building resilience isn`t about blind optimism. Rather than looking only on the bright side and pushing away negative emotions, resilient people let themselves experience what they`re feeling in any given situation, whether it`s good or bad, according to Positivity author Barbara Fredrickson.

The resilient person isn’t papering over the negative emotions, but instead letting them sit side by side with other feelings. So while at the same time they’re feeling ‘I’m sad about that,’ they’re also prone to thinking, ‘but I’m grateful about this.’

They`re realistically optimistic

A recent Taiwan National University study found that adopting an attitude of "realistic optimism," which combines the positive outlook of optimists with the critical thinking of pessimists, can boost happiness and resilience.

Every time [realistic optimists] face an issue or a challenge or a problem, they won`t say `I have no choice and this is the only thing I can do’. "They will be creative; they will have a plan A, plan B and a plan C."

They "reject rejection"

Rejection chips away at our self-esteem and confidence, making us fall harder with each subsequent setback or failure. Rejection also steals our joy, say experts. But rejection is inevitable, and coping with it effectively is essential to becoming resilient. As HuffPost blogger Alex Pattakos puts it, choosing to reject rejection can ensure that "you don`t become a prisoner of your own thoughts.”

"It`s important to understand that everyone is in a different `space` and, in some cases, no matter what you say or do, they will always reject you or your ideas," says Pattakos, explaining that taking this mindset helps you to not take the rejection personally.

They build strong support systems

When you get knocked down hard, it`s important to have the resources to help you get back up again, which includes having people to lean on. A 2007 study found that social support can actually boost resilience to stress.

They notice (and appreciate) the little, positive things

Resilient people are good at tapping into their "positivity ratio.” This means that they notice and appreciate the little joys and victories -- which keeps them from feeling like "everything" is going wrong. Research has shown that a three-to-one ratio of positive to negative experiences is ideal for building resilience and boosting happiness.

They seek out opportunities for growth and learning

Resilient people seek out growth experiences that boost self-reliance and individual decision-making skills, which gives them confidence in their ability to bounce back from failure.

Those who have mastered the art of resilience know that setbacks and challenges can be our most powerful learning opportunities. Some of the world`s most successful people have been fired from their jobs, and used the experience to learn something about themselves.

They`re endlessly grateful
Gratitude is known to boost health and wellbeing. Those who are thankful may enjoy better physical health and mood than those who focus on hassles and complaints.