Thriving Together Series: Resilience


By: Melissa Schreibstein, Director of Well-Being Programs, CWB

“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela

Collectively during this pandemic, we are experiencing rapid change combined with almost paralyzing ambiguity and large-scale tragedy. Our individual experiences during this time are as varied and diverse as we are. What’s certain is that our work and our home lives have shifted. We’re experiencing loss and fear amidst deadlines, big decisions, bigger expectations, and very little control over our circumstances. This challenging time calls for resilience in every aspect of our lives.

Here’s the good news: We are resilient. For one month, we have adapted to a disruption bigger than most of us have experienced in our lives. We’ve had no choice but to adapt, and although it feels uncomfortable, adapting is actually what we are made to do. Resilience is inherently human. We’re here today because we’ve evolved in changing environments. While we might tend to think of resilience as a superpower, research shows us that it’s truly quite ordinary.

Our resilience shows up during these days when we calmly get our kids engaged in their virtual schooling and when we engage in back-to-back web meetings. Small wins are demonstrations of resilience in action, even when it doesn’t look good. Yes, some days will be better than others. But if our lives look messy, that’s no reason to doubt our resilience. Resilience is a marathon and not a sprint. We are building our capacity to succeed daily, despite these adverse circumstances.

Resilience Practice: A Brief Reflection

Today’s well-being practice is a brief reflection exercise to increase your awareness of what has made you resilient during this time. You can use your new awareness to guide your intention for the rest of the week. Grab a pen, paper, and set your timer for three minutes and begin to write about the ups and downs of the last month. Think about the challenges you’ve faced, your wins, losses, and the lessons you’ve learned. What have you learned about yourself and your resilience? On your best days, what was present for you, where was your focus and mood, and who did you connect with? What about on your worst days?

When your timer goes off, read what you’ve written. Then, create a list of the qualities, strengths, and behaviors that you believe have helped you to be resilient. Examples might be walking the dog, sense of discipline, strategic, sense of humor, trust in my leadership, faith, even binge watching one of your favorite TV shows. Check your list against the resilience-building traits identified by the experts.

The last step of this reflection is to decide where you want to intentionally focus in order to bolster your resilience. Look at your list and select one quality, strength, or behavior to engage in more this week. Maybe this means setting an intention to use one of your strengths more deliberately or to make space for personal connection with someone from your office or class. Jot down your intention on a post-it note that you leave by your computer or set a reminder in your calendar, and take control of your resilience.

Additional Resources

Mason students and employees can earn Mason’s Resilience Badge.

Our center’s 10 Resilience Resources articles are full of helpful information.

In “5 Lessons I Learned About Resilience While Working With Soldiers“, stress and resilience expert Paula Davis-Laack offers valuable lessons to help you build resilience.

Being resilient under high stress requires consistent, quality recovery. Learn more about how to tend to your recovery and refill your resilience reservoir in “Resilience Is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure“.

Write one of these Thriving Together Series features! We’re looking for contributions on all topics related to well-being. Read other Thriving Together Series articles here and contact us at for guidelines. Thank you for helping our Mason community thrive together online!