Resilience SAVES – A Model for Cultivating Resilience

Dr. Greg Eells is the Associate Director of Gannett Health Services, and Director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Cornell University.  The following is a summary of his TEDxCortland talk.

If his TED talk, he states that we all strive toward a life full of meaning but when we face the inevitable obstacle, it’s how we bounce back that matters.  This “bounce” is also defined as resilience.

Psychologists define resilience as:

  • Looking at positive outcomes despite high risk status
  • Competence in the face of stress
  • Adapting to trauma
  • Using challenges for growth in order to make future hardships more manageable

Or another way of defining resilience is how and what we make of the broken pieces of change.  The ability to shift our mindsets is unique to human beings.  Dr. Eells developed a model to help us remember how to manage our mindset and practice resilience.: Resilience SAVES.

S  ocial Connection:  We underestimate the value of social connection in our lives.  Dr. Eells states we are part of a  greater social organism and when we lose the connection, it is toxic to our bodies.  To maintain the connection, one should:

  • Do something for somebody else.  The act releases oxytocin and dopamine, or the feel good chemicals in the brain.
  • Surround yourself with resilient role models who can encourage and enlighten us
  • Find your swan – the person who can help you connect in ways that are meaningful and help you weather the storm

A  ttitude:  The three Ps will help you alter your life by altering your attitude.  They are:

  • Permanence – step back and realize this will change
  • Pervasiveness – when we are resilient we can contain negative events and shift our focus to the positive.  Letting the positive grow overshadows the negative.
  • Personalization – remember that it is not about you. Open up to the broader context and history and recognize it’s greater than you.
  • Get you Ps straight in order to build a more resilient self and culture.

V  alues:  Find something to hold on to during the tough times. Understand your purpose in life by balancing the sense of your uniqueness with humility and then pursue what really matters to help you find your meaning and your purpose.

E  motions:  We don’t have good language to express our emotions.  When we face tough situations, we struggle to  explain what we are feeling.  Embrace a creative hopelessness, let go by accepting what is, and remain  curious by asking good questions in order to understand what is happening around us.

S  illiness:  Step back and laugh at yourself.  When we take ourselves too seriously, we miss the big picture and the obvious.

Happiness, success, health – we all strive toward a life full of meaning. When we do face obstacles, the Resilience SAVES model can determine how we move forward.

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