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Resilient or Well Adjusted?

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."

- Jiddu Krishnamurti

This quote keeps coming back to me these days. I’ve had many conversations recently with people who are well adjusted to the profoundly sick societies they are living in. Most of them, in fact, are far beyond well adjusted to the point that if society looked at their lives, they would be considered successful. And yet all the while these successful and well adjusted people are casting their gaze far and wide looking for something else - another way. Somewhere inside them, they feel a certainty that the norm they are accommodating is missing something. And it’s something big. When we speak about resilience, all that goes into it, and the societal forces that stand in the way, they are instantly there, furiously nodding their heads in agreement. Somewhere inside them it resonates with a deafening echo. We have a passionate exchange about the seminal need for resilience and lament that it is not prioritized. We start discussing strategies and how we approach the whole idea. We share what we are wanting to work on with our own personal resilience and how we plan to go about it. And then, the conversation ends. And as they turn away, I watch the veil of social norms falling back over them and notice their shoulders slump just a bit. I wonder if they will act on their plans or if they will be shuffled aside, waiting for an appropriate time. Maybe when they are more stable, have more time, have more money, or are less busy. Maybe then they will attend to their personal resilience. And I worry about them while they wait for the “maybe” day to come and all that will transpire until they finally prioritize resilience, if they ever do. Going against social norms is hard. And yet, in this case, it is critical if we want to be of use in the world. The only way we can sustain effective, good work for others, be it professionally or personally, is by looking after our own personal resilience. More contracts, more accomplishments, more achievements, and more busyness will not help. And there is no shortcut to cultivating resilience. It needs exploration and practice. It is a way of living, not a quick fix. How can we make this shift? How can we adjust to what we know we need and what is best for us rather than simply following society? How can we start today? Personally, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the practice aspect of resilience and how that looks in my life. How about you?

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