Thursday, January 6, 2011


About a year ago, I recorded a series on PBS called This Emotional Life. I know many who watched the 3 part series and raved about it.*

This is how strong my resistance was: I've only begun watching it in the past few weeks.

I heart my DVR.

The second episode in the series, the one I'm watching now, relates to happiness. (The first episode covered fear and discussed all manner of things from depression to PTSD.)

One of the things I've learned so far is that we're pretty damn resilient. Case and point: Watch this short video of an 8 year Vietnam War prisoner of war who was tortured and kept in solitary confinement for 3 years. He came home happy and with his spirit still intact - in fact STRONGER than before.

This blog is my tap code and ya'll are my support system. Did you know that even Pilates was invented while the creator was locked away in a concentration camp? Amazing things come out of extraordinary experiences.

There were other stories of people who overcame things in their lives, struggles and difficulties. The common theme was that they had no choice in the matter of their situations. They HAD to adapt.

The episode stated that resilience isn't outstanding; it is absolutely normal. We all have happiness set-points that we aspire to. In other words, once we've reached a peak level of happiness, we always aim for it. In the case of the POW (or quadriplegics or children of divorce or other situations in which a change is deemed impossible), our brains have a natural affinity to accept and adapt to our situations. Thus, we bounce back, reach our happiness set-point and sometimes, despite the situation, even surpass it!

I wonder if this is what happens with Stockholm Syndrome too....and perhaps all sorts of other situations where we think, "Surely they must be suffering" but instead, they come through it all with a smile on their face.


The next part of the episode is about seeking happiness.

Apparently, it is the temporary struggles that tend to bring us down. I haven't watched the rest of the episode yet but I would assume it is those situations that we feel we're stuck in, in which we feel we have to try harder or fight, that we find our happiness feels more illusive.


I think this is part of my struggle with being a single mom, my dissatisfaction with my job, my frustration with my relationship... I haven't even *begun* to accept it yet.

I keep thinking that the situation can change. I keep thinking I did not choose this. I never wanted to be a single parent. I didn't want to be in a long distance relationship. This job was only a temporary fix until I could figure out what I wanted to do career-wise that wouldn't keep me from my kids.

I keep selfishly thinking that I could run away from the things that bring me down. After all, that is why I left Louisiana as a headstrong teenager. That is why I quit my job and went back to college after I got married. This is why I divorced my husband. When I thought things could be better, I went out and MADE THEM BETTER.

I feel helpless. I feel victimized. I feel weak. And I'm sick and tired of it. I'm fucking ready to MAKE THINGS BETTER.

I don't want to talk about it anymore. I don't want to complain about the things that make me sad. I wanna take this bitch on.

I am resilient. I will have to learn to accept what I can and change what I can change.

I'm trying. I've gotta get the momentum started....

*You can watch the episodes online here for less than $5.


  1. I haven't watched the video, but I will when I get home tonight. The series looks good! Stockholm Syndrome is fascinating to me...

    I too heart DVR. The oldest thing on there is the season finale of Lost. I can probably get rid of that now...

    Anyway, acceptance and peace with a less than ideal situation is probably the hardest and most important thing. But is there any situation out there that is actually ideal? I doubt there are many. Yet there are some really happy people out there. They've got to be doing something differently with their attitude on life.

    I hope you can keep the momentum started, friend!

  2. I am right next to you in the "taking the bitch on" Lets go her!!!!

  3. I think its great you watch something other than the regular stuff that is on tv.

    Stockholm Syndrome is a interesting subject.

  4. I'll say the same thing I said to Jolene, it's in the bag, baby! You can do it if you just resolve yourself to believe it.

    Also, it ocurrs to me that the reason I don't often make my way to your blog is because I love that you write about real, interesting, deep topics... and I know that when I come here I'm going to have to spend a while reading and pondering it all... and that's a good thing!!! I just never seem to have the time to ponder and your posts deserve that. I'm going to try to make a point of making the time though! :)

    Stay strong!

  5. You and me both, sister! That's one good thing about my job loss - it's kicked my ass into overdrive to start actually doing some of the career-related things I've been talking about doing forever. I hated my job, but it was easier to complain about it than to actually DO something about it.

    Can't wait to see where this new resolve will take you!

  6. Resilience. One of my favorite qualities...and you got it sista. you really do. you might just need to find it again.

  7. That's the challenge, accepting what you can change and then changing it. You can do it! I believe in you.

    Sending hugs.

  8. You are only weak if you allow yourself to be. The road to a better life starts with only one step, but that one step can be excruciatingly difficult. If often means breaking away from comfort, from what we understand and know, and moving into a realm where we don't have any idea of the outcome. Most of us decide to stay "with the devil we know, instead of the devil we don't"

    When the pain of not changing becomes greater than the pain of change do most of us move, unless we see what lies ahead, recognize that it will cause greater pain and make the changes now to avoid it.

  9. I've been reading a lot on resilience lately, esp as it relates to kids. My daughter spends her time in two very different homes and I need to be sure I know how to help her navigate the different lifestyles.

    I had a chance to meet Kim Phuc a number of years ago. You may know her as the girl in the picture taken during the Vietnam War in which she's running, naked, from a napalm bomb attack. She is an incredibly resilient woman (and so very forgiving). I'd definitely recommend her biography: The Girl in the Picture: The Story of Kim Phuc, the Photograph, and the Vietnam War. I'm due to read it again to remind me that (a) things aren't so bad and (b) we can survive anything.

  10. Another interesting tidbit from that show: our brains cannot seem to wrap around the thought that our future may look different from the past or present moment. We generally find that once we face what we thought we were so afraid of, it isn't so bad after all.

    Great stuff. Great comments. Thanks guys!

  11. I've had that on my DVR and haven't watched it yet either... maybe a good time. I get that, "I'm tired of talking about it". I kind of stopped from going back to counseling because I was tired of talking about stuff.


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