Joan Borysenko is an internationally known speaker in spirituality, integrative medicine, and the mind/body connection and has a doctorate in medical sciences from Harvard Medical School. She is a licensed clinical psychologist, the best-selling author of numerous books, and a journalist and radio personality. She is featured on our website as a Living Spiritual Teacher.
In this sprightly and timely book, Borysenko offers wise counsel on making the most of the uncertainty, suffering and loss, and financial setbacks of the present moment. She believes that all of us can develop resilience as a deep spiritual resource to help get us through rough patches. She defines it poetically as "a graceful way of flowing through life, adapting to difficult circumstances with the ease of water assuming the shape of whatever container it's poured into." Resilient individuals and organizations are able to harvest hardship and create new possibilities for growth. The author explores the three secrets of resilience: an eyes-open acceptance of reality, a deep belief that life is meaningful, and a penchant for creative improvisation.
Optimism is another quality of hardy people. It can be developed over the years by giving up the three poisons of negative thinking: taking things personally, seeing problems as pervasive, and believing that your problems are permanent. It is possible for everyone to optimize their thinking and move beyond disappointment and stress to a fresh future. Borysenko reports on the health benefits of altruism, the helper's high, and "reversing the flow" or taking the spotlight off of "I, me, and mine" thinking. Along with these, letting go and moving on is a spiritual strategy that people have found helpful in releasing the past and setting themselves on a new path.
The second part of the book is titled "Train Your Brain for Success" where Borysenko explores the value of activities such as humor, the martial arts, mindfulness, yoga, and meditation. What do they all have in common? They enable you to develop new neural pathways that can change your thinking and your life. Another way to grow a bigger brain is to exercise regularly and stop being a couch potato.
In the last chapter, Borysenko talks about living with vision and purpose. Here she lays out some suggestions for thinking about the future and making it happen with intention and creative discipline. She concludes with ten snappy reminders of what it takes to go through hard times and come out the other side a stronger, healthier, and more resilient person.