Spring is here and some of my clients are having a hard time. The references to birth, rebirth, renewal and blooming are all hitting a bit too close to home. It is as if the air is infused with giddiness about the growth of new life, the birth of babies, and the flowering of new plants. The world is celebrating Fertility and those who struggle with procreation are feeling left out.

But spring is also a celebration of strength and resilience. From the broken branches and the fallen leaves of autumn; from the frozen earth and the long nights of winter, nature is bouncing back. It is not only surviving the adversity and harshness of wintry weather but it is pressing forward vigorously, hardened by the long exposure to frost.

And so it is with all of us. We too have the capacity to grow from loss and catastrophe, the ability to bounce back stronger after a crisis. I, like many other psychologists, believe that people can thrive and fulfill their potential despite, or even because, of life’s stressors. To paraphrase Englishman Frederick William Robertson (1816-1853), just as trees are strengthened by the compost of their own decaying leaves, so people are strengthened by their own broken hopes and blighted expectations.

What makes one resilient? Here are a few characteristics:

The ability to “bounce back” and recover from almost any crisis
The attitude of “where there’s a will, there’s a way”
The tendency to see problems as opportunities
The ability to “hang tough” when things are difficult
The capacity for spotting windows of opportunity and making the most of them
A deep-rooted faith in some system of meaning
A healthy social support network
The wherewithal to handle different situations competently
The courage to step outside their comfort zone
How to boost your resilience? This is what we’ll talk about next. In the meantime, enjoy spring.