How to Pump Up Your Resiliency Quotient-Joy Miller PhD


  • See the world from a position of positivity. Look for the good in the world, and attempt to visualize life filled with abundance vs. scarcity.
  • Watch for positive changes you make and be sure to witness them and celebrate the dedication you are making to be grateful and aware of new insights.
  • Look at situations as opportunities to learn new strategies for moving through an obstacle. Be creative, limit your impulsivity, and be open to new ways to look at a situation and possible outcomes.
  • Be open to friendships and connections. Research shows that the most resilient people are the ones who have strong connections within their life.
  • You have a choice. You can look at the glass as half-full or half-empty. The perception is yours. Either the world is keeping you open to beauty or it is filled with obstacles. Which would you choose?
  • Strengthen your esteem by saying something positive to yourself each day. Look in the mirror and say something positive about how you look, what you did today, what you are going to accomplish, or the type of person you are. Do the same thing for someone you love each day and watch the change in them and your relationship with that person.
  • Look for opportunities. The Universe is holding them open for you, and you just have to keep your eyes open, your ears clear, and your arms open.
  • Be willing to be vulnerable. Be willing to touch your feelings. Be willing to share and ask for what you need.
  • Accept that change is a natural part of life. Change helps us grow and teaches us new methods for looking at life and its possibilities.
  • Move toward your goals, but do so in small measured steps. This will encourage success and the possibility for you to celebrate the little steps along the journey.

Be grateful. Miracles are all around you if you take the time to just look.


Joy Erlichman Miller PhD. is the director of Joy Miller & Associates and Resiliency Forum and also an adjunct professor for Bradley University. She is the author of 7 books.

10 Habits of Highly Effective People: How to Develop These Traits if You Don’t Have Them.

Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.”—Paul Brandt


It’s not accidental that some people are happier and more successful than others. What are they doing that separates them from the pack? They make resilience and well-being top priorities. 

A Winning Frame of Mind

Michele Sullivan, former President of the Caterpillar Foundation, was born with a rare form of dwarfism that created many challenges in her daily life. She is the epitome of a resilient corporate leader,having once told me: “For you, having a door held may be a very nice gesture from a stranger. For me, it is a requirement to enter most buildings that do not have automatic doors. It requires me to ask for a lot of help, and once I finally learned to embrace that reality, the universe answered back with thunderous support. Where I had once seen obstacles, I changed my perspective and viewed them instead as advantages. I now call this the ‘Looking Up’ philosophy, and it is how I live my life each day.”

Michele is so caught up in looking at the advantages that they eclipse her losses. She’s a challenged woman living a rich life, simply because of her perspective. Few of us have Michele’s challenge and still have difficulty coping. Compare Michele’s perspective to that of Ralph, who came barreling into my office during tax season, slinging his backpack onto the sofa and spouting curse words. When I asked him what was the matter, he groaned that he had to pay a half-million dollars in taxes. When I asked how much he made for the year, he offhandedly mumbled, “Oh, five or six million.” Ralph was so caught up in his loss that it eclipsed his gain—a rich man living an impoverished life.

Some people are born with pit-bull determination, less affected by stressful situations, and more resilient to change. Others are more vulnerable to the arrows of everyday pressures. But regardless of where you fall, you can cultivate a winning frame of mind also known as a growth-mindset coined by Carol Dweck of Stanford—the belief that defeat happens for you, not to you. If you have a growth mindset, you consider success and failure a package deal—like a hand and glove, milk and cookies, flip sides of the same coin-twins not enemies. It’s an understanding that avoidance of failure morphs into avoidance of success. To attain what you want, you recognize you must be willing to accept what you don’t want. Instead of giving up, you welcome obstacles, setbacks, and disappointments—no matter how painful, frustrating, big or small—as opportunities to grow and learn instead of as defeat.

You think of defeat as a personal trainer when hopelessness sets in after a setback: an impossible deadline, a lousy review from your boss, a missed promotion, or the rumble of your own self-doubt. You tell yourself you want to give up, but you don’t really want to quit. You just want the hurt and disappointment to stop, understandably so. At the time that might feel like the only option, but it isn’t. Perhaps you haven’t actually failed. Chances are, “failure” is what you call it when you don’t meet your expectations, things don’t turn out the way you planned or you’re simply traversing a valley that everyone goes through before reaching the mountain of success. Failure is heartbreaking, but it can also be an impetus to keep going when you possess the following traits:

10 Habits of Highly-Resilient People

1. Grow a thick skin and expect rejection and setbacks. Commit yourself in advance to facing the many smackdowns you will encounter like all happy people before you.

2. Ditch the desire for comfort and step into growing pains. Be willing to go to the edge of your emotional pain so you can be fully present with what lays beyond the barrier.

3. Be willing to postpone immediate gratification in the short term for the fulfillment of your goals in the long term.

4. Cultivate spring-back sustainability. Think of yourself as an elastic band that bends and stretches to a certain point before you spring back higher than you fall.

5.  Refer to previous experience. Reflect on past obstacles you’ve overcome in your climb. Point to lessons learned and your personal resources and underscore ways you have grown stronger through past hard knocks.

6. Identify self-doubts that have cramped your work style or crippled you from growing fully. Harness them—instead of running from them—and channel them into useful skills so they don’t paralyze you.

7. Stay off the roller coaster. Manage the ups-and-downs of your life by treating highs and lows equally. Celebrate the highs but don’t make them any more seriously than the lows, and don’t take smackdowns any more seriously than upswings.

8. Eschew the what-the-hell effect. This attitude only adds insult to injury. Face letdowns by taking the towel you want to throw in and use it to wipe the sweat off your face then ask, what you can learn that will help you grow.

9. Practice positive self-talk and optimism. Avoid negative put-downs and criticisms. Instead of bludgeoning yourself after a setback, give yourself positive affirmations and encouragement to get back in the saddle.

10. Catch yourself when you fall. After a setback or discouraging situation, your motivation bounces back quicker when you support yourself with compassion. Instead of kicking yourself when you’re down, be on your own side, wish yourself well, and be your number one cheerleader as you progress in your goals.

How to Sustain Your Resilient Zone

Once you have these habits in your hip pocket, the rest is up to you. You start to accept failure as an essential stepping-stone to success, you give yourself permission to make the mistakes necessary to get where you want to go. The more you accept failure, the more opportunities you have to accept success and bounce back higher than you fall. And every time you fail—instead of giving up—you do what every resilient person before you did: take the towel you want to throw in, wipe the sweat off your brow, and plot your next forward move.


Bryan E. Robinson, Ph.D., is a licensed psychotherapist, journalist, and Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is the author of more than 40 books, including #Chill: Turn Off Your Job and Turn On Your Life and Daily Writing Resilience. Learn more at




Keys to Enhancing Your Gratitude Quotient-Joy Miller PhD



Resilient people have the ability to see the world through the eyes of gratefulness. They are aware of the abundance of life and focus on the positives even when times are difficult. During those times of difficulty, they mentally “reframe” situations to include hopeful statements, look for possibilities, create options or strategies, and believe in their ability to make a change (no matter how small).

Here are a few methods for increasing your gratefulness:

  • Keep a gratitude or blessing journal. Find a time each day to write in your journal and include the events, comments, or occurrences that brought you joyful gratitude today.  HINT: Many people find it helpful to set aside a consistent time each day to focus on gratefulness. Perhaps, you could determine a specific time before you go to bed to devote to this practice? Maybe a good time might be when you sit at your kitchen table having a cup of coffee in the morning?
  • Be grateful for your senses. Take some time each day to notice how your senses enhance and create powerful images for you to capture.  Breathe in and feel the coolness of the air inside your lungs; close your eyes and feel the breeze as it tingles on your arms and face; gaze at the magnificent sunrise and witness the magical colors that fill the sky; close your eyes and smell the freshly cut grass in your neighborhood. The options are limited, and they all train your mind to focus on the miracles around us for which we can be grateful.
  • Learn prayers of gratitude. These prayers can be spiritual or they can be meditative or affirming.  The key is that resilient people believe that they are connected to the world and everything that surrounds them.
  • Grateful people are watchful of the mental messages that they give to themselves. Too often we are our own worst enemy and we fill our cluttered minds with self-defeating messages about our deficiencies and mistakes.  Resilient people “feed” their minds with positive messages and intervene with negative self-messages that destroy our self-esteem.
  • Vow to practice gratefulness. Commitment is an important component to enhance your gratitude quotient. Without a personal pledge to focus on a change, your goal will soon become just a passing thought.
  • A playful technique for practicing gratitude. Each morning we go into our bathroom and wash our face, brush our hair, and stare into the mirror.  What if that mirror could remind you to be grateful?  Here’s how:  Take a steamy shower in your bathroom and allow your mirror to get covered in fog.  Now take your finger and write GRATEFUL on the mirror. You’ll be surprised because each day when the mirror fogs up you will see the word GRATEFUL appear. You now have created a lasting reminder that magically appears each time you stand in front of the mirror.  (you could also put a post-it note on your mirror, but that might not be as magical).
  • Watch children play. Children enjoy life to the fullest, and the smallest things make them squeal with excitement and joy.  A little stick can become a magical wand, a dandelion that explodes in the wind can make them smile, and a lightning bug can create a night filled with chasing and laughter. Resilient people have the ability to look at life with playfulness as they replenish the joy in their lives.

View the world from a framework of positivity.  Resilient people see a life filled with abundance vs. scarcity– so fill your mind with some positive thoughts.

Joy Erlichman Miller PhD. is the director of Joy Miller & Associates and CEO of Resiliency Forum. Miller is also an adjunct professor for Bradley University and she is the author of 7 books.