Written by Linda Graham
Reviewed by: Lily Wu, New York University.
“Resilience is essential to the survival and thriving of human beings and human societies” (pg. 2)
Linda Graham’s 2018 book, Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster, is a continuation of the practices she first wrote about in her book, Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being. Throughout each chapter, Graham details exercises aimed to build and strengthen resilience by way of regular practice.
Graham divides the book into eight chapters designed to guide readers through a journey of understanding and strengthening resilience. Chapter One begins with a broad discussion of resilience’s neurological underpinnings. In the following chapters, the discussion of resilience is furthered by introducing research informed tools and targeted exercises that engage specific brain processes, subsequently leading to the strengthening of Graham’s five intelligences that she writes are foundational for resilience: intelligence of the body (somatic), emotion, relational within our self, relational with others, and conscious reflection. By fortifying these intelligences, readers can potentially develop skills to cope with any level of disruption to their resilience. Finally, the book concludes with a discussion of lifestyle choices that support the functioning of the physical brain, which in turn, will help reinforce resilience.
Resilience’s strength lies in the structure within the book—it offers a deliberate sequence, a step-by-step brain training program that includes new condition, reconditioning, and deconditioning. Readers learn how the brain works, how their brain works, and how to work with the brain to create new habits of responding more flexibly. “Flexibility,” Graham writes, “is the core of resilience” (pg. 2). Each chapter forms the foundation for the next. The process taps into the brain’s ability to adapt. The book’s set-up allows readers to fluidly work their way through each chapter, whilst also simultaneously allowing readers to focus on developing specific skills based on individual need and level of disturbance. Furthermore, there is a plethora of exercises within each chapter that are combined with real-life examples, allowing readers to understand and visualize how the practice of response flexibility is achieved.
Another strength is Graham’s inclusion of mindfulness practice throughout the book. This combination of positive psychology, neuroscience research and mindfulness underlines Resilience’s thesis: that you can “choose to choose experiences” (pg. 25). In other words, you are in control of your brain and possess the ability to change and improve your life in ways that are both immediate and permanent.
Graham provides a mindful guide that navigates the practice of resilience building. Resilience is a great resource to a diverse group of readers due to its comprehensive approach free of technical jargon and inclusion of exercises suitable for a wide variety of circumstances.
Linda Graham is a licensed psychotherapist and mindful self-compassion teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work focuses on integrating cutting-edge research discoveries in Western Behavioural Sciences with advances in neuroscience, relationship psychology, positive psychology and trauma research. In addition, Graham studies and teaches mindfulness and self-compassion.
Lily Wu graduated in 2019 from New York University with a BA in Psychology and minors in Studio Art and Mathematics. She has interned at the ROSES program at NYU and worked as an assistant to a Social Psychology PhD candidate. In addition to working for IJP, she writes reviews for Somatic Psychotherapy Today.
Graham, L. (2018). Resilience: Powerful practices for bouncing back from disappointment, difficulty, and even disaster. Novato, California: New World Library.