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Building Resilience Can Be Fun!

In March and April, the theme for SWC is “resilience.” In today’s turbulent times, learning skills to help build our resistance is key. This blog looks at the four types of resilience and why playing games can be an unexpected way to build resilience.

In this article,, author Jane McGonigal talks about her interesting perspective on resilience.

First she explains the four types of resilience:

Mental resilience:

The ability to pay attention and motivate yourself to do something that’s difficult.

Emotional resilience:

The ability to invoke positive emotions when you need them, like optimism, curiosity, or joy.

Social resilience:

The ability to reach out to others for help when you need it. This also means learning to be the kind of person that others are likely to want to support and encourage.

Physical resilience:

The ability to face physical challenges.

She says: “One of the biggest findings I’ve discovered over the past decade is that people who spend more time playing games have a number of different types of resilience—more reserves of resilience—than people who don’t.”

“The first thing that all games have in common is that there is a goal—an arbitrary challenge that you are accepting. Games are designed to make it difficult for you to achieve this goal. For anybody playing a game, you’re going to fail 80% of the time (that’s just a typical play rate). In real life, you’d be more than likely to give up with a rate of failure like this. In games, you’re compelled to keep trying because it’s voluntary and you’re liberated from consequence (we’re not embarrassed if we fail, we’re not going to get fired, etc.). This allows us to learn from failure so that we can get better. It encourages us to be more creative, finding new strategies. In real life we need these skills—to have that creativity, to try different strategies, to call in friends, and to not give up at the first sign of failure.”

In her book “SuperBetter,” which teaches about resilience, McGonigal lists some activities we can use to build resilience:

1. High-five a tree. It sounds silly, but what it does is get you outdoors. We know that being in the presence of something living, a plant of any kind, is really good for your health and happiness. You don’t have to go to a nature reserve to get that benefit, so the idea is to boil it down to the smallest thing you can do… Find a tree, high-five it, go back to work.

2. Brushing your teeth with the non-dominant hand. Doing anything that’s slightly difficult for you supercharges your willpower.

3. Send a thank you. If you want to have the most amazing day of your life, send a thank you (call, email, FB, or text) to a different person for every hour that you’re awake in that day. You will be surprised by how amazing it feels.

I can’t wait to play some Scrabble and get out there and high-five a tree - and will try her other ideas too.

With love and light,


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