Five Tips for A Resilient Holiday

Appreciation: Savor the moments you are with the ones you love. Create mental memories of their facial expressions or sounds of excitement as they open a gift or share a story. Ask for and offer help: There is a lot to get done and plenty of people around to help out. Don’t take on all the responsibilities nor should you leave it all to someone else. It’s a family thing. Take time for you: This is your holiday season as well, so make some time for to enjoy things you like to do. Perhaps it’s a solitary walk in the woods, or working on your favorite hobby. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy and build tradition: Family traditions create a sense of comfort Read More

The Resilient City

My new hometown, Pittsburgh, recently was named one of the world’s most resilient cities by the Rockefeller Foundation. The “Resilient City” project being undertaken by the Foundation will name 100 large and small cities across the globe that will receive funding to develop strategies to address many of the challenges that are facing local communities. So far they have named 77 cities. The Resilient City project focuses on 4 areas of resilience including infrastructure and environment, economics and financial systems, health and well-being and leadership and community engagement. Of course, Pittsburgh can be the definition of resilience having transformed itself from the depths of the steel plant closing crisis in the 1980’s to now being consistently cited as one of Read More

Appreciative Inquiry: An Organizational Development Resilience Strategy

In much of my work with individuals, I focus on a strengths-based approach helping people identify and acknowledge the skills that help them become successful. I find this approach much more amenable to professional growth as opposed to focusing just on weaknesses, which for many of us, is our default mode. In the same way, Appreciative Inquiry (AI) can be used to help organizations focus on positive approaches for decision-making and strategic change. Developed in the late 1980s at Case Western Reserve, AI works to move businesses away from just trying to solve problems to the larger scope of creating new solutions to organizational challenges. As opposed to problem solving methodologies that focus on causes and analysis, Appreciative Inquiry begins Read More


Last week, I conducted a series of presentations to employees at an industrial plant as part of their ongoing education on Stress Resilience. We had a great time as the employees talked about their upcoming holiday stress and how we’ll all be dealing with our crazy Uncle Albert (or someone) who is sure to disrupt some of the festivities. Gratitude came up as a topic of discussion in most of the sessions, as a strategy to improve our own resilience and to truly enjoy the spirit of the season. We’re all pretty good about being thankful around this time of the year but I think its possible to build gratitude as a habit all year round. The key to building Read More

The Pursuit of Happiness

One of our inalienable rights as Americans is to pursue happiness and certainly if we are building resilience in the face ofchallenging life events, the goal surely must be to find that elusive state. Opinions differ about exactly what makes happiness. Most research has focused on overcoming our negativities (as we discussed a few weeks ago on the Negativity Bias) which can include ideas to deal with everything from anxiety to depression. Happiness definitions vary but typically include the idea that happiness relates to the overall enjoyment of our life through engagement and meaning as well as the momentary pleasures we derive from life’s little gifts. Research is showing that about 50% of our ability to be happy is genetically Read More

Being Cool in Real Time Stress

One of the most challenging parts of being resilient is staying in the moment when a stressful event is happening. Examples of successful navigation almost seem heroic at times. A fire fighter running into a burning house, superstars like LeBron James sinking that last second jump shot to win the game or a news reporter detailing events from the front line of a war zone. Some of these qualities may be hardwired into these first responders, professional athletes or journalists, but for the rest of us, we may find ourselves tensing up with even a mini-crisis like what might happen in a fast paced, high stress work place. Whether it is having to prepare a last minute presentation to your Read More

The New Mecca of Relaxation: Your Neighborhood Airport Terminal

All eyes turned up to the TV monitor at the Delta terminal this afternoon as the announcer started talking about travel stress.  It’s tough being a road warrior today. From the travel to the airport, through TSA screening and hoping that you board early enough to get you baggage in the overhead, flying is a long way from the elegant easy going bygone days before we had to worry about terrorists blowing up our planes. It’s been 14 years since flying was fun. Can we reclaim a little bit of it back? The story on the monitor began with soft relaxing music as the commentator walked leisurely down the hall, past rushed and harried passengers.  His excitement showed as he Read More

Watch Your Kid’s Technology

Today’s parents are often accused of being helicopter-ish. They are seen as hovering overhead, and protecting their young ones from any conceivable adversity. The question is being posed today, however, if all of this protectiveness is keeping our kids from learning how to face challenges and develop skills that will be important for them to possess as adults. Some tech-savvy parents are denying their kids the latest and greatest conveniences, all in the belief that by challenging their children to learn different ways to solve problems, they’ll develop more diverse skills. This can certainly be seen as a parenting resilience strategy. At the Waldorf School in Los Altos, California, the elementary school children of Silicon Valley’s technology wizards don’t use Read More

Our Negativity Bias

Biologically, we are programmed to look for the worst in situations…and it is a good thing we do. Our biology would take us back to primitive times where we would want to be on the lookout for the worst case scenario—a sabre toothed tiger over the next ridge or a tribe or warring enemies mounting an attack. Even today, we’re vigilant walking down an unfamiliar dark street and night…a good practice to keep available. In our regular lives, however, this built in bias, known as the negativity bias creates danger where it may never exist. And that creates undo stress. One of the ways to overcome the negativity bias is to acknowledge and highlight things we do well for ourselves Read More