Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Recovering From Hardship - NYTimes.com

Can adversity make us stronger?

In this week’s Science Times, Benedict Carey explores the issue of resilience: the ability to rebound from hardships like a serious health problem, the death of a family member, debt or other ills. “New research suggests that resilience may have at least as much to do with how often people have faced adversity in the past as it does with who they are — their personality, their genes, for example — or what they’re facing now. That is, the number of life blows a person has taken may affect his or her mental toughness more than any other factor,” he writes.

Interestingly, in one recent study that monitored the mental well-being of nearly 2,000 adults for several years, it wasn’t those who had never suffered a major setback, or those who had suffered the most, who fared best:

It was those in the middle, those reporting two to six stressful events, who scored highest on several measures of well-being, and who showed the most resilience in response to recent hits.

In short, the findings suggest that mental toughness is something like physical strength: It cannot develop without exercise, and it breaks down when overworked. Some people in the study reported having had more than a dozen stressful events, and it showed.

To read the complete article click on the above link:
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