February 26, 2021 4 min read
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Resilience is the ability to recover from difficult events and if there is a group that needs that skill it is entrepreneurs. Without resilience, every lost customer feels like a disaster. Failure seems like a point of no return, although it is a normal, albeit uncomfortable, outcome of starting a business.
However, resilience is not all or nothing. Some entrepreneurs are better at relaxing and swinging than others. What distinguishes people who thrive in stressful times from those who break down in difficult times?
Research by Michele M. Tugade of the Vassar College Department of Psychology in 2004 suggests that resilient people are more likely to experience positive emotions. Although positive emotions come in many colors, only one can be evoked in any context: gratitude.
As an entrepreneur, gratitude belongs in your back pocket. Gratitude builds resilience in four ways so you can bounce back faster than ever:
1. Gratitude builds lasting personal resources
When we express gratitude, our repertoires of thoughts and actions expand. This means that we are able to flexibly grasp the bigger picture, take it into account and act.
Over time, the effects of gratitude accumulate and intensify. The result is that we see more and more opportunities to solve problems and recover from others. And by primarily solving problems more effectively, we don’t have to resort to our personal reserves as often.
Keep in mind that this will occur over time. This is why it is so important to establish a daily gratitude practice. The more often we are grateful, the greater our well-being and the less often it is broken. Through gratitude, we are better able to resolve emotionally rich, negative situations.
Related: Why Posture Is More Important Than Intelligence
2. Gratitude helps you build and maintain social relationships
Gratitude is at the core of our social relationships. Sharing and experiencing gratitude is what builds and strengthens our relationships with others. This is because gratitude is motivated by mutual altruism: when we give something of value to others, we trust that they will repay our favor at a later date.
When we express gratitude, we reflect kindness to the person who kindled feelings of gratitude in us. This act of appreciation increases the likelihood that both parties will behave altruistically in the future. Gratitude and altruism are cyclical and self-reinforcing.
Interaction through interaction, person by person, gratitude builds a resilient community to support you when you are at your worst. The key is to keep investing in these relationships instead of assuming they’re always there when you need them.
Related topics: Why building a community is more important than networking
3. Gratitude rewires your brain
Practicing gratitude rewires the brain to shift your focus from negative events to positive ones. Gratitude activates your hypothalamus, the area of the brain associated with energy conservation and stress control
Practicing gratitude also makes your mind more sensitive to the effects of dopamine and serotonin. These feel-good neurotransmitters reduce your susceptibility to anxiety and help you muster the motivation to get through difficult times.
The bottom line is that gratitude physically changes the brain to better cope with adversity. By preparing your brain for stress, you reduce the time it takes to recover from setbacks.
4. Gratitude is a reminder that we will get through this, too
It can be difficult to be grateful for negative experiences, but if you focus on the positive outcomes of those experiences, you take power from the bad and place it in the hands of the good.
Gratitude means realizing that good things can come from bad times. That way you will see that you can weather any storm that comes your way.
This may be why gratitude has shown that it increases self-esteem in athletes. In both sports and business, gratitude gives us the confidence to get back on the horse if we fall. Getting up again and again makes it less scary to get knocked down.
Related: Why Entrepreneurs Should Always Express Gratitude
Practicing gratitude naturally feels good. But the bond of gratitude to resilience goes so much deeper than the ability to create good feelings.
By practicing gratitude, we build our personal reserves. We build a supportive community around us. We keep reminding ourselves how strong we are.
As a business owner, you cannot afford to get lost in uncertain and difficult times. So, open a gratitude journal, reach out to someone who has helped you in the past, and think about all of the good things in your life.