Hangtime is a cultural term that refers to how long something stays in the air before hitting the ground, from the point guard dunking the ball, to the pigskin sailing toward the end zone, to a stunt car flying off a ramp.
But from cognitive perspective, hangtime is also an helpful metaphor for conceptualizing resiliency. Because in the face of life’s inevitable jabs and blows, our goal is to minimize mental hangtime. To return to the ground as quickly and smoothly and as possible.
Maisel’s school of philosophy on existential health, which has equipped me to build my resiliency over the years, shows that the meaning we intend to make is more important than the mood we attempt to measure. It’s a psychological experience, an eternal wellspring and a renewable resource, and we can make more of as soon as the pain subsides.
And so, in our low moments when life bombards us with rejection and failure and disappointment, here’s how we minimize mental hangtime.
First, we admit that a meaning blow has occurred. We feel our feelings. After all, resilience is, first and foremost, the acceptance of our new reality.
Next, recognizing that a negative event has occurred, we take immediate action by making new meaning. Instead of wallowing in sadness about our job application that received a cold, impersonal rejection letter, we move through the sadness by redirecting our energies into work that’s in alignment with our values.
This process may sound overwhelming at first blush, but once your set of responses and behaviors is internalized, resiliency will become as natural as breathing. And before you know it, you’ll bounce back like a champion.
Remember, resilience is not a rare ability. It’s not a genetic trait that some people possess and others lack. It’s a process. It’s a practice. And it’s available to us as soon as we’re available to it.
And contrary to popular conditioning, resilience isn’t about acting tough, it’s about acting according to our values.
If we want to expand our capacity to recover from the exhausting experience of being human, make meaning, don’t monitor moods.
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That Guy with the Nametag
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