SPIRIT OF SURVIVAL—What makes some people resilient?


We construct a picture in our minds of how we want our lives to be. Our choices put that construct into action, building that picture, then nourishing it. Often, sacrifices are made to ensure the picture thrives. Some see their picture come to fruition, and they enjoy their creation. Others find that Life interjects its own splash of colour or blackness, forcing change. Sacrifices and compromises become tools as a new or altered picture is created.

I’m curious about those splashes of colour and blackness, and the subsequent change(s). I’m curious about the costly sacrifices and compromises as a new picture evolves. I’m curious to know what it is that spurs some to be able to build a new picture and move forward, while others crumble, unable to project any picture at all, or at very least, are left unable to take action on a picture that does emerge in their minds.

What makes some people resilient? Does everyone have a spirit of survival that lasts a lifetime, for part of a lifetime? Can it become stunted, eliminated?

The infamous J. C. Penney’s picture was to build a string of businesses. His first success culminated in Penney losing everything, which included the death of his wife. He restored his picture and started over again. The rest is history.

Bill Gates’ first company failed miserably. Today, we’re told he’s the richest man in the world. Icon Jim Carrey, dropped out of school at 15 to help support his family, which eventually ended up homeless. Champion surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her left arm at age 13 in a shark attack, but rose up to win the NSSA National Championship two years later. Virgin Records mogul Sir Richard Branson has dyslexia. Stephen King tossed his first novel, Carrie, into the trash after it was repeatedly rejected by publishers. His novels have since sold over 350 million copies. Billionaire Oprah Winfrey was molested continuously until she ran away from home, and at age 14, gave birth to a boy that died in infancy.

Master artist, Vincent Van Gogh, struggled with mental illness and poverty. The Red Vineyardat Arles (The Vigne Rouge) was the only painting he ever sold during his life. The lack of external or monetary validation, and being institutionalized didn’t stop him from pressing onward to paint over 900 works before his suicide at age 37.

The great American president Franklin D. Roosevelt contracted polio which left him paralyzed from the waist down by age 39. Simon Cowell’s Fanfare Records Company failed, forcing him to move-in with his parents at 30.

Each had a life picture which either changed, was revamped at some point, or that involved tremendous sacrifice and perseverance. Each rose above the trial(s) that could have destroyed or arrested the achievement of set goals.

Is it hope that helps us overcome? Is it a tenacious personality? Religious belief? Luck? The support of others? What is the spirit of survival? How important is it?

I’d like to hear your story of overcoming, of your spirit of survival, of your having to reconstruct or revamp your life picture that has brought you to this point in time.

I invite your comments/stories below that will certainly encourage others. If you prefer to keep it confidential, drop me a note – email@analynnriley.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

THE RED VINEYARD at Arles by Vincent Van Gogh
Red Vineyards at Arles, 1888 by Vincent Van Gogh


Arrow & the Song
May the Road Rise to Meet You
Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen
Looking Back
Can’t help Lovin’ That Man
Young As The Spring
Danny Boy | Too-Ra-Loo | How Ireland Got Its Name
ROSE in a BROKEN BOTTLE – Adult novel based on a true story
NINE GIFTS- with Study Guide
THE CURSE – with Study Guide
RUSH of the RAVEN’S WINGS – Youth short story with Study Guide
NO PASSPORT FOR ÉTIENNE – Short story inspired by true events
THEFT OF BABY ILY – Short story inspired by true events
MYSTERY of the SINGING GHOST – with Study Guide
MYSTERY of the TRACTOR GHOST – with Study Guide
MYSTERY of the THREE SISTERS – with Study Guide
MYSTERY of the LOST CELL PHONE – with Study Guide
TEDDY MEETS KIBOKO – Children’s novel with Study Guide
KIDNAPPED SANTA – Children’s novel with Study Guide

Links on aging and resilience