Building a more resilient character

Chromatic Black — Shane Griffin

This piece came out of a series of conversations and observations that ended up being my Lucid Dreaming project.

I often find myself wondering: What am I tying my happiness to? Especially when it comes to experiencing rejection, or a change of plans that feels like a letdown—how you process that experience is important. It can be hard to pull back from a difficult moment and put things in perspective. Of course we all have plans, things we’d like to see get done and, pronto.

“I don’t like to limit myself by saying this is what I want and THIS is ALL I want…you never know — but you have to fluid enough to say ‘I’m cool with that.’ I wouldn’t look at it like plan A and plan B, but options. ‘I’d like option one, but option two and three might not be so bad’ ”
-Charlemagne Tha God

But most of all it helps to adopt a more fluid mindset. Making sure we don’t attach our happiness to plans, but open our mind to the experiences that come when they change.

A good friend of mine recently brought up a good point that was something along the lines of “…the things that truly make us happy are not as complex as we perceive them to be.” In other words, every situation we’re placed in has something special for us, it’s just a matter of appreciating that every experience has something to teach us, whether it’s good or bad—there’s a lesson to be learned.

Being open to new experiences

Resilience comes in when we’re able to focus less on trying to control every experience and focus on adapting the situation you’re in now. Say you‘re having a hard time starting on a new career path. I think it helps to start being more observant to the experiences you have — the people you have the privilege of knowing, knowledge that could change the trajectory of your whole career in ways you can’t imagine, aspects that shape our daily lives that we take for granted. I don’t mean reveling in the past and accomplishments in an unhealthy way—but I mean being appreciative. Remembering what we’ve been privileged with is a surprisingly effective way to both prepare for and recover from frustrating situations.

A lot of this thinking came up as I learned more about the idea of Acceptance and Presence when it comes to mindfulness and meditation.

Just for some background

Acceptance is the appreciative attitude to your experiences, it says: “In difficult situations I can pause without immediately reacting”
Presence is being aware of what’s going on internally and externally, this says: “I feel connected to my experience in the here-and-now”
— lucid dreaming: connections to mindfulness and creativity
mind map

These two core ideas are what helped me to realize that the mediation required for those who lucid dream can also help to build a more resilient character.

This is one of the long term effects of mediation that attracted me to this study of lucid dreaming. As someone that deals with bouts of anxiety, learning the mental benefits of mediation have helped me to start changing my perspective overall. Especially when it comes to being more observant, I try to be more mindful of the small details that make my experiences special.

When it comes to dreams:

These small details can serve as symbols in the dream world — it could be a piece of advice that you’re given or a being in a place that makes you feel special—that give you a better idea of who you are.

Not doing things just to check off a box

I’m certainly guilty of wanting to be completely in control of everything all the time — and that can be exhausting. It’s especially harmful when you’re stressing about something that’s just out of your control. Just being more open to our experiences and changes that come with them helps to break out of the “checking off boxes” mentality.

Divergent thinking is a result of this ability to break fixation on a particular way of thinking and explore possible options.
— lucid dreaming: connections to mindfulness and creativity

I think that this is useful to those who, like myself are continually trying to be more self-aware — holding onto the idea that each “bad” experience is just an opportunity to grow. I believe it’s called post traumatic growth, and I do think it can be taught. It helps to talk about the growing pains that come with it and how you can best overcome or prepare for it.