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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great research and learning, 10 May 2013
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This review is from: Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life's Greatest Challenges (Paperback)
The authors, leaders in the fairly new field of resilience, describe it as "complex, multidimensional and dynamic". Their book is a fascinating read because it is solidly based on researching what makes some more resilient than others.

Resilience, they say, has multiple perspectives; it is more than a simple psychological trait or biological phenomenon. They explain that people tend to be more resilient in some areas of their lives than others, and during some - but not all - phases of their lives: perhaps able to bounce back better at work than at home, or when young rather than later in life. Healthy adaptation also depends on available resources through family, friends and a variety of organisations - even on the characteristics of specific cultures and religions, communities, societies and governments.

They point out that resilience is common, we see it all around us, and for most people it can be enhanced through learning and training. Yet, bouncing back is nevertheless easier for some than others. Those with resources such as financial security, a high level of education, an interesting and rewarding career, and strong social networks are able to leverage those resources while those without can fall into a "loss spiral". They caution that this does not mean we should give up but rather recognise we may have a more difficult road to travel, which may allow us to be more patient with ourselves.

Through research they shortlist 10 top "resilience factors" : realistic optimism, facing fear, moral compass, religion and spirituality, social support, resilient role models, physical fitness, brain fitness, cognitive and emotional flexibility, and meaning and purpose. They caution these coping mechanisms overlap and interact with one another but they are not complete, other factors certainly contribute to stress hardiness: these were the strengths most often described as crucial and sometimes even life-saving, in their interviews.

Not really an easy read but worthwhile: full of wonderful examples and teachings.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't recommend it more, 4 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Resilience (Kindle Edition)
If you are interested in the science of growth, mastery, and personal power, this book is a must read.

It covers in detail all the recent findings in psychology and neuroscience on the topic of personal development under one cover. Some of the hot topics addressed include: mindfulness training, the relationship between physical activity and mental function, neuroplasticity, neurobiology of stress, anxiety and arousal. The authors do a beautiful job of putting all these diverse ideas into an easy to read narrative.

What is also amazing is that all the key points on each topic are addressed fully in such a short book. Most of the material in "Resilience" has already been written about in other books but it would take at least 10 of them to get to the same level of understanding on all the relevant topics.

The book has been a pleasure to read because the authors have found a perfect balance between a dry academic text and meaningless motivational waffle. The science is real and backed up by references. The personal accounts are well picked and demonstrate the key arguments in real life. However, this is not an instruction manual - there is no bullet list of "10 funky steps to become super resilient" anywhere in the book. If you want to apply any of the principles to your own life you will have to work that out for yourself. Some advice is given in the last chapter but it is very open ended.

If you need to read up on the science of personal strength, either for yourself or for professional research, this book is a great starting point. Throughout the text you will find references to other books, research papers, and websites where you can find more information on a given topic.

One final note, I really admired how the book handled the subject of religion. Typically, with such books, the topic is either awkwardly skipped, or half the book feels like a sales pitch for the author's favourite faith. Being a strict atheist, I initially cringed when I saw the word "Religion" in the table of contents. However, the subject was treated very gracefully, without avoiding or forcing it on the reader. The chapter on religion focuses on the psychological effects of faith as a coping strategy without trying to prove or disprove the existence of any deities.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good if you are not of a nervous disposition, 23 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Resilience (Kindle Edition)
Personally I found it extremely good. However might be a hard read for someone of a nervous disposition as there are a lot of examples of bad things that have happened to people in this book.
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Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life's Greatest Challenges
Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life's Greatest Challenges by Dennis S. Charney (Paperback - 23 July 2012)
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