Relevant Read / Hardwiring Inner Strengths - ASCD
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December 1, 2020

Relevant Read / Hardwiring Inner Strengths

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Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness by Rick Hanson with Forrest Hanson (Harmony, 2018).

This gentle, wise book should help anyone feeling drained of resilience see things they can do to improve their sense of well-being and hope. Rick Hanson, a psychologist with roots in the human potential movement, and Forrest Hanson (his son) give practical suggestions for how to grow "mental resources" like determination and kindness—qualities that help one be resilient.

Resilient's 12 chapters each explore one of the 12 "basic inner strengths" the authors identify as important for well-being, things like gratitude, calm, confidence, and courage. While the 12 strengths support each other, there's no sequence to them, so readers may want to skip to the chapter(s) on the strength(s) they most want to cultivate. In each chapter, the authors share experiential practices a person can try for increasing that strength, suggestions for applying this quality in everyday life (to build it like a muscle), and examples from their lives.

For instance, the opening chapter, on compassion, starts with Rick Hanson's memory of being a child, standing outside his family home while his parents had an argument, and experiencing a feeling of caring about himself ("I felt bad … and wanted to help myself feel better. Years later, I learned that this was compassion"). He explores what it means to have compassion towards oneself, how difficult this can be, and ways to build and reinforce self-compassion. Remaining chapters show readers ways to grow the other 11 strengths, by using specific practices and making mental shifts. Any stressed-out educator can find a way here to, as Hanson says, "hardwire durable inner strengths into your nervous system."

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