A Day on Resilience at the Greater Good Science Center

I have heard about the Greater Good Science Center for quite some time now and I’ve been curious to check them out. I finally started looking at the schedule over the holiday season and wanted to go to all the seminars–so many amazing topics and amazing leaders! Kristin Neff taught a seminar on self-compassion in February, which I sadly couldn’t attend, but I was able to make it to “The Science and Practice of Resilience” by Rick Hanson. img_9992-1I left my apartment at the crack of dawn and caught the BART from my apartment to Berkeley; luckily it was a short hour long train ride where I people watched, read, and caught up on work emails.

I caught an Uber from the BART station to the event and serendipitously ended up sharing the ride with a few other attendees. One is a student at Georgia Tech (I went to Emory–coincidence!), whose name was Jalen, and he excitedly told me about his startup, which is an app from focused on emotional awareness and self-compassion. Jalen was such a kind person and I can’t wait to see how his startup, Mind Hack, grows. His companion is a coach at Heroic Voice Academy, which is an incredible company helping individuals develop their own brave, authentic voice whether they are giving a TED talk or interviewing for a new job.

The workshop was incredible; the day was broken down into sections of lecture, activity, and practice. We learned about the neurobiology of resilience, but also why that neurobiology matters so much in the clinical, real world setting.

One of my favorite exercises came near the beginning of the day when we discussed what we see as our own personal inner strengths that we draw on as our mental resources in difficult times. We paired up randomly, and my partner was a thoughtful, open psychiatrist grappling with his recent divorce. He shared his own strengths and my turn rolled around a few minutes later. At first I was drawing only blanks, but I suddenly tapped into this beautiful place of self-empowerment and reflection. Speaking my strengths out loud made me feel powerful, strong, worthy. As Dr. Hanson mentioned frequently during the day, humans naturally focus on the negative; we have an inherent negativity bias that we have to correct for. By focusing on my strengths, rather than the daily frustration I tend to perseverate over, I wasn’t just seeing the world, or myself through rose colored glasses, I was correcting for my own bias. This was definitely a light bulb moment for me.

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Beyond the course, I had the opportunity to connect with so many wonderful, kind people. I spent about an hour getting to know a woman with such a fascinating background who is now a therapist and shaman. She was so open in sharing her story and had such helpful insight into my own future goals.

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I feel so lucky to have gone to such a fascinating, educational event. It is such a privilege to be able to hit the pause button of life every once in a while and attend an event like this. I met so many like-minded people, learned more about the neurobiology of resilience, and developed tools to cultivate resilience.

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Have you heard of the Greater Good Science Center? What do you think are your inner strengths?

Hannah

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