Books: Eric Greitens’ “Resilience”, as reviewed by Ella Isakov

Eric Greitens, a former NAVY seal, champion boxer, a scholar, and humanitarian, writes an intelligent, inspiring and easy to read book about facing life challenges head on in “Resilience”. The book consists of letters to his friend who has returned from war and is struggling with PTSD. Greitens uses his life experiences, modern-research and wisdom of ancient Greek and modern-day philosophers to help his friend get through this time.

Resilience is a “virtue that enables people to move through hardship and become better. No one escapes pain, fear, and suffering. Yet, from pain can come wisdom, from fear can come courage, from suffering can come strength.”

We all face hardships in life, but resilient people do not just come back from difficult times and continue with life as it was, they move through these times by integrating all that is happening into their life which enables them to come out wiser, stronger, more courageous and transformed. Resilience begins with a choice to acknowledge the pain and the struggle, and to face the fear with humility and forgiveness, and make the choice to take the first step to create a positive change in your life.

The book has clear and very doable strategies to not only get through hard times, but to thrive in the face of them. Here are five strategies Greitens writes about that are of great value.

Identity, action, feelings. Greitens upholds that once you decide the kind of person you want to be and the values you want to cultivate, you can act towards making it a reality. Take small steps towards what you want to achieve and your fear will dissipate. The actions you consistently take to become the person you want to be will create feelings that match your values. Consistent practice will have the outcome you desire and the feelings will follow. Feelings follow behaviour. Be clear on who you want to be, what you aspire to be. Stop putting obstacles in your own way.

Prepare to fail. If you are not failing, you are not trying hard enough. People grow to fear failure and stop doing things they love or aspire to do, and growth stops. Engage in every step of your life. Resilience is the willingness to take responsibility of your life, your actions and each outcome. Accepting accountability for anything in life requires courage as there will always be feelings of fear and doubt.

Practice, practice, practice. Neither we nor our life is perfect, and resilience is not a path to perfection. We aspire to be resilient through life’s imperfections, so take risks and practice. “Practice the art of practicing.” Practice is not only for the skill you want to achieve, but also to create habits for taking time for daily gratitude, reflection and self-examination. Repetition is what formulates our character from an idea.

Master yourself. Great achievements will involve suffering and hardship, but our greatest obstacle is our thoughts about ourselves. Self-sabotaging self-talk affects how we feel and behave. The first step is to become aware of it, then make a choice to gradually alter it to nurturing and self-loving talk.

Breathe. As a yoga teacher and someone who sees breathe as a vehicle to health and well-being, I was impressed that Greiten thought breath was one of the most powerful ways to take control of your life. Create a discipline where you regularly use your breath to bring awareness to how you live and gain knowledge on how to control what you can control.

In conclusion, we all have a story and endured hardships. The book provides insightful lessons that one can implement to confront the pain and move through it to create a life of happiness and compassion.

“Resilience is cultivated not so that we can perform well in a single instance, but so that we can live a full and flourishing life.”

035 Ella Yoga 2015 EditedElla Isakov is a student of life, yoga teacher and Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist. She is in love with breath, movement, stillness, and the written word. She yearns for a world where people are truly seen, vulnerability is part of everyday human experience, and no one feels alone. She vows to live each day with a conscious intention to inspire, be kind and loving, with a dash of laughter, and to share her passion of yoga and healing with the little beings and ones young at heart.