Finally, physical fitness itself can be a powerful component of overall emotional resilience. Lilly Mujica-Parodi, a researcher at Stony Brook University, conducted a study of first-time skydivers and found that those in good shape were better able to control the surge of the stress hormone cortisol that accompanied their terrifying first plunge. "Cortisol affects receptors in your brain, which in turn affects your cognition," she says. "Individuals with lower body fat produced less cortisol in response to the skydive, and therefore the cortisol didn't affect the receptors as much, which means that their cognition was not as affected." Trimmer bodies, in other words, mean clearer thinking under pressure.
Another key tool is social support. In a difficult situation, having a friend by your side can make all the difference. In preparing for his competitions, Duffy had the support of an extensive network of family and friends, but he found that even strangers could provide crucial support in a time of need.
What made the two groups so different? Dr. Maddi found that those who thrived maintained three key beliefs that helped them turn adversity into an advantage: commitment, control and challenge attitudes. The Commitment attitude led them to strive to be involved in ongoing events, rather than feeling isolated. The Control attitude led them to struggle and try to influence outcomes, rather than lapse into passivity and powerlessness. The Challenge attitude led them to view stress changes, whether positive or negative, as opportunities for new learning.
A landmark 12-year longitudinal study by psychologist Salvatore R. Maddi, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Chicago involving one of the biggest deregulation and divestiture cases in American history...in 1981 Illinois Bell Telephone (IBT) downsized from 26,000 employees to just over half that many in one year. The remaining employees faced changing job descriptions, company goals, and supervisors...results showed that about 2/3 of the employees in the study suffered significant performance, leadership, and health declines as the result of the extreme stress...including heart attacks, strokes, obesity, depresion, substance abuse and performance reviews.
This study continues the construct validation of hardiness, using its latest measure, the Personal Views Survey III-R. In a large sample of undergraduates, this test showed adequate internal consistency reliability and absence of relationship to socially desirable responding. Furthermore, as expected, hardiness was positively related to measures of the ongoing, existential process of finding meaning through experiencing rather than imposing preexisting notions of what life is all about.
We examined the relative effectiveness of hardiness and grit as predictors of performance and retention among first year cadets at the USMA. Based on past research and theory, we expected that both hardiness and grit would predict unique variance in performance and retention even after controlling for past performance as measured by the Whole Candidate Score. Results of regression analyses revealed that hardiness and grit predicted unique variance in first year retention, but only hardiness predicted first year performance at USMA. These findings suggest that hardiness assessment and training may prove valuable in enhancing performance and retention within military training environments.
This approach, which was begun in the comparison of the relative role of hardiness, optimism, and religiosity in performance effectiveness, is continued in the present study. Specifically, the relationship to grade point average of hardiness and related variables is compared. The related variables involve attitudes toward school and a sense of life’s meaning and one’s well-being. The results confirm the expectation that hardiness is a central factor in school performance.
the present study involves a large sample of undergraduate students, comparing those who experienced hardiness training as a regular credit course, with those who went through other courses taught by the same teachers. At the beginning of the courses, these two groups did not differ in demographics, hardiness levels, or grade-point-average (GPA). At the end of the courses, the Hardiness Training Group showed higher levels of hardiness, and GPA than did the Comparison Group. This improvement in GPA for the Hardiness Training Group persisted over the following 2-year period, even controlling for GPA and hardiness level prior to the training, and the grade received in the training. These results suggest the importance of hardiness training in facilitating a major indicator of excellent performance in college life.
To manage the perceived threat, you can deny stressful changes exist and thereby avoid them. But, you then risk losing valuable opportunities to utilize your brain's resources to learn and grow. To be resilient, you need to hold your fears of change at bay and capitalize on the opportunities that come with change.
How can you be resilient under stress? You need to cultivate a group of attitudes and skills that help you to build on stressful circumstances, not be undermined by them. We call this pattern "hardiness."