9 Habits of Resilient People (No. 9)

This is the concluding piece in a series of articles on resilience.

The ninth habit is: Resilient people are (mostly) spiritual people.

This is one of the few habits which has been studied scientifically. Numerous surveys show that people with spiritual beliefs live longer (on average) and manage stress better. They also cope with potentially terminal illnesses more effectively.

By ‘spiritual’ I mean those beliefs through which we live by a higher purpose in (or beyond) this life. A purpose which gives meaning and direction to existence. This could be based on formal religious belief but for many it does not. While some people have a deep sense of the divine at work in themselves and in others, some find this hard to understand. For many people it is enough for them to appreciate the beauty and intelligence in nature and its species; or in the revelations of art, science, mathematics and philosophy. For others still it is enough to know that they are giving service: for the family, for the community, or for future generations.

One reason spiritual beliefs and values aid resilience is that they provide us with a refuge in times of crisis: in tragedy, illness and death. They enable us to keep going even when we feel like giving up. They give us the strength to support others who are in despair. And despair is the enemy of resilience.

A deeper reason relates to personal fulfilment. To know that you are part of something bigger than you are, and that the service you give to others is important, provides you with an inner strength and a will to live that is inspiring to others and fulfilling to you. And, generally speaking, a fulfilled life is not only a happier life but a healthier one too.

3 thoughts on “9 Habits of Resilient People (No. 9)

  1. Julia August 12, 2019 / 3:14 pm

    Nice concise list of resilience traits until the last one which I think rather undermines the thrust of the first 8. Being a realist and owning things etc how does that gel with belief in literal higher powers of any sort other than science and nature. I don’t think there is a need for wishy washy higher purposes beyond life to be healthy and resilient. I think it rather encourages people to abdicate responsibility for themselves and life events not to take control of them and respond in a healthy way. Just my thoughts, no problem with what others choose to believe but I don’t think it fits with resilience personally.


    • drjohneaton August 13, 2019 / 6:35 am

      Thanks for your appreciative comments.

      Your picture of wishy-washy people who abdicate responsibility is not one that I recognise amongst the many spiritual people (religious and non-religious) that I have met over the years. Quite the opposite in that most take their responsibilities to themselves, their families, their communities and to the Earth with the utmost seriousness. I can also think of many atheists who live unhealthy life-styles and who take no responsibility for themselves or others at all.

      I think we are agreed that resilience is a matter of individual strength. In my view we also become stronger when we sustain good relationships that help us through troubled times. And when we have a purpose beyond ourselves. That doesn’t have to be ‘religious’ in the ordinary sense, as I hope I have made clear in the article.


  2. Thomas De Brun November 29, 2021 / 11:59 pm

    John, on the last point you made – In my view we also become stronger when we sustain good relationships that help us through troubled times.

    I can attest this to be true because in maintaining our relationship you have helped me get through some very troubled times.


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