Over the past months I’ve been reading a great number of motivational and inspiring books on the topic of personal growth. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. This interest has sprung from a combination of factors as I’ve recently reached a few significant milestones in my life; I retired and turned sixty and I have five grandchildren between the ages of three months and nine years. I am concerned with aging, health, and emotional wellbeing, as well as my children and grandchildren’s future challenges. I have more time to reflect and more things to reflect on, so I’ve found these books, podcasts and videos very helpful, especially in these uncertain and volatile times in which nothing can be taken for granted. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Mondays.
This Monday I’m introducing you to Susan David, Harvard Medical School psychologist and author of #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Emotional Agility. I had seen her Ted Talk some time ago, but more recently I noticed her presence on YouTube and watched some of her interviews, especially one with Ed Mylett.
Her definition of Emotional Agility is a critical skillset that helps us make real changes in our lives. It is the key to thriving.
Emotional agility is heavily influenced by Victor Frankl, survivor of a Nazi death camp and author of Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he states:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
As I understand her concept of emotional agility, it refers to embracing the bad as well as the good in life and not pretending everything is always fine.
The search of happiness need not be our only goal, because that makes us unhappy; it’s rather to build strength in our core values and embrace and overcome hardship. We should search for strength within ourselves to look inward and live intentionally by working with, as opposed to against, our own emotions. I love this quote:
Here’s Ed Mylett’s interview in which she expands on her theories.
She does not give us an easy recipe for success and the book ends with a series of recommendations I’ve summarised here.
Her advice is to take ownership of our own development, career, creative spirit, work and connections, and to accept the good with the bad with compassion, courage and curiosity.
We should embrace our evolving identity and accept that that being alive means sometimes getting hurt, failing, being stressed and making mistakes, so we should abandon ideas of perfection and enjoy the process of loving and living.
We should abandon the idea of being fearless, and instead walk directly into our fears, because courage is facing our fears instead of ignoring, or avoiding them.
She reminds us that life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility. Nothing is permanent because we will all age and eventually die and be separated from our loved ones.
Her two final pieces of advice are to, ‘Learn how to hear the heartbeat of your own Why and remember to ‘dance if you can’.
I found her suggestions valuable but theoretical. But I urge you to listen to her interviews and talks which are much more practical.
By the way, if you want to know your level of emotional agility, take her quiz here.
It’s fun and interesting. I found out among other things that I have a very good sense of what my values are and what is important to me, and that I am mostly able to bring these in a real way to my daily life.
I guess that means my introspection, reading and experience are serving me, so far, but it’s an ongoing process…
Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth