Resilience Is Like a Timex Watch…Takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’

In 1854, the Waterbury Watch Company of Brass, Connecticut had an ingenious idea that transformed timekeeping: move the stem of a pocket watch from 12 o’clock to three and weld loops to hold a strap. The result? By 1914, the world no longer kept time in their pocket. In similar fashion, the company revealed a media campaign in the 1950s that is considered among the top campaigns of the 20th century. In the spots, they demonstrated multiple abuses of a Timex, such as dragged behind a speedboat or dropped in a fish bowl, accompanied by the venerable slogan, “Takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’.”

In psychology, a similar transformative shift occurred in 2000 when psychologists Martin Seligman, then president of the American Psychological Society, and Hungarian-born Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi challenged psychology’s long-standing history of studying mental illness. They shifted the emphasis to studying conditions that contribute to a well-lived life, happiness and mental well-being. The result? A new paradigm that Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi called “Positive Psychology.”

The basic tenet of positive psychology is that people have an innate tendency to strive for growth and development. By studying the actions and characteristics of people who had this tendency, science could identify psychological, social and behavioural factors that protect against mental illness and promote resilience. This new paradigm changed the world of psychology just as the Timex company changed the world of timekeeping years earlier.

Resilience is a process of flourishing in the face of adversity and stressors. However, unlike a Timex that when dropped doesn’t break — but also doesn’t improve (i.e. keep time better) — a resilient person under pressure doesn’t break but does improve (i.e., become mentally stronger and happier).

Many people assume that after you experience an urgent work deadline, several days of poor sleep or any other unwelcome stressor, the brain, body and mood naturally recover to the state they were in before. Yet, this is rarely the case. For example, if you lie in bed for eight hours but don’t have a good sleep because you are distracted with thoughts of work, you will likely feel exhausted the next day, impatient, quick to anger and unable to think clearly. In other words, you “won’t be on your game.” Rest and recovery are not the same thing as taking steps to energize and refuel well-being.

This is where Avail steps in.

Avail is founded on a few key concepts, notably positive psychology and resilience. Using evidence-based practices, Avail helps you track daily changes in your mood, energy, stress, sleep quality and more and then suggests personalized action plans and support resources to improve your well-being, help you become more resilient, and keep on tickin’.

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