Little House on the Prairie was a family favorite of ours. Damn, I'm getting old. Anyways, what comes to your mind when you think of the people of that era? I think about the resilience of Charles Ingalls and his family. Think about the disciplines, behaviors, and activities that he engaged in each and everyday. Nearly every activity was one that helped cultivate a resilient mind and extremely durable body. The men, women, and children of past era's, like the 1800's, had massive amounts of resilience. Their minds were strong and hard-wired to push forward through difficulties, setbacks, and hardships. They were constantly engaged in activities that promoted critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, unity, connection, and belonging. Their bodies were fit and lean because their normal activities involved consistent movement through bending, pushing, pulling, climbing, etc … Obviously, the times have changed.
I have no idea how to saddle a horse, plow a field, build my house, kill and clean my food, or steer a horse carriage. It's challenging enough to throw my own clothes in the washer and dryer let alone doing it by hand. Saddle my horse ??? Ha !!! I do not even know how to ride a horse. I would assume that the GPS navigated tractors and combines, of today, require much less physical activity than trying to navigate the plow and oxen devices of the past. The men, women, and children of that area were physically and mentally hard. Put Charles Ingalls in the ring with any modern MMA fighter and I bet he holds his own. You get what I'm saying. We have become a society of wussies who fail to move past the difficulties, setbacks, and hurdles that prevent us from reaching our true potential and become great. Now, I'm not saying getting rid of the car and buying a horse, but I am saying we should all reconsider the constant use of technology and start doing things under our own resolve.
Here are a few excerpts from Little House on the Prairie:
"Now the potatoes and carrots, the beets and turnips and cabbages were gathered and stored in the cell, for freezing nights had come.
"Onions were made into long paths, braided together by their tops, and then were hung in the attic side wreaths of red peppers strung on threads.
"The barrels of salted fish were in the pantry, and yellow cheeses were stacked on the pantry shelves."
"Ma was busy all day long, cooking good things for Christmas. She baked salt-rising bread and rye 'n' Injun bread, and Swedish crackers, and a huge pan of baked beans, with salt pork and molasses. and dried-apple pies, and filled a big jar with cookies, and she let Laura and Mary lick the cake spoon.
"One morning she boiled molasses and sugar together until they made a thick syrup, and Pa greeted in two pans of clean, white snow from outdoors.
Come on, Caroline! Seriously ??? The amount of mental and physical energy required to figure out how to do ALL of that would kill a person. Or, maybe the amount of education, critical-thinking, and problem-solving the Ingalls family engaged in, just to figure out how to survive, cave them the persistence, perseverance, and resilience to keep them moving forward past the barriers, difficulties, and setbacks that would get in their way. These people were tough, tough, tough.
Recently, I framed my own basement. Never done it before and had no idea how to do it. I, first, needed to figure out the following:
- What tools and resources do I need?
- What is the layout going to look like?
- Which corner do I start in?
- How do I build a frame for the ceiling?
- How far apart does each study need to be?
- How do I lay out the support frames?
- etc … etc … etc …
In order to figure out how to successfully frame my basement, I had to figure it all out. I watched tons of, "How to frame a basement," You Tube videos, read a book on framing basements, and repeatedly asked my neighbor for guidance. For every time I figured out how the obstacle the obstacle, my resilience became stronger. For every time I watched a how to vid, read an instructional book, or engaged my neighbor in conversation, I was building resilience. It is the activity of figuring things out and moving past the issues or not-know-how that was in my way, which was building resolve. Charles Ingalls was constantly figuring out how to move past another problem or issue. Where he was ignorant he had to learn.
Figuring things out is a critical component towards cultivating a resilient mind. Resilience is a key ingredient for getting out of bed each morning. The next time you need to landscape, do not hire the landscaper, do it yourself. Do not hire the painter, paint yourself. Give the housekeeper a day off or two two and clean yourself. Engage in a discipline, behavior, or activity that promotes critical thinking and problem-solving. Do-it yourself activities are critical ingredients towards optimal well-being both mentally and physically. Make sure you always have a house improvement project going or you're trying to figure out how to do something you've never done before. To build and cultivate a resilient mind, we must practice being resilient. We must actively and consistently be engaged in figuring things out.
Imagine if Charles started every morning with his MacBook, email, and Starbucks. While, Caroline jumps in her BMW and texts on her iPhone while driving to meet a client for lunch at the local Whole Foods. Mary and Laura, who are in their 20's, still live at home, never miss an episode of Dr. Phil and Ellen, and are regulars at the local 24hr Fitness. Do not get started on Mrs. Olsen's addiction to The Real Housewives of Orange County. Anyways, anyway, anyway … you get the idea. We have become so mentally weak, so quickly. We should all be embarassed. We're cultivating a society of sluggards with no resolve.
- Where is your resolve?
- Are you figuring things out?
- Are you getting it done?
Resilience breeds resilience.
Where we practice, we improve.