Posted On July 5, 2018

Resilience for a Flourishing Retirement

Reprinted with permission.

Resilience is defined as the ability to persevere in the pursuit of one’s goals despite obstacles and setbacks.[1]  With the number of lifestyle changes we encounter in retirement, developing the capacity to recover from difficulties and handle whatever life throws in our path is critical to flourishing at this stage of life.

Dr. Sonja Lyubormirsky’s research[2] confirms that the variability in life satisfaction between individuals can be explained 50% by genetics, 10% by life circumstances, and 40% by actions within one’s control.  What we think, how we feel and what we do contribute to the 40% we control.

Because resilience is a teachable skill, learning to be more resilient in retirement can positively impact wellbeing and contribute to a more flourishing retirement.

Mary and Jeannette presented the building blocks of the Bounce Back Better® system from the Flourishing Center which form the basis of their resilience training and enhanced toolkit for their New Retirement coaching services.

The Bounce Back Better® program teaches people how to build the mental, emotional and physical skills of resilience combining theory, exercises and practical reflection tools. Mary and Jeannette provided an overview of Level 1 – the Apprentice Level.

Bounce Back Better® Level 1


Emotional Physical
Module 1

Growth Mindset: from Judgments to Curiosity

Module 2

Leveraging Positivity and Befriending Negativity

Module 3

Physical Activity: Balanced Strength & Flexibility

Module 1 presents the work of Carol Dweck. [1] Choosing a growth mindset, which involves a belief that one can always learn and develop, is considered a prerequisite for resilience.  A fixed mindset, on the other hand, comes from a belief that abilities are static and creates a more deterministic, judgmental approach to life.

The Choices Map[2] provides a visual reminder that we can choose our mindset and path when facing adversities and either opt for thoughtful solution focused choices or remain stuck in an automatic, reactive state focusing on blame.

Finally, Module 1 presents the power of curiosity as an antidote to a fixed mindset and introduces one of the phrases coined by Ben Zander – ‘’how fascinating’’. [3]

Module 2 looks at basic emotional skills.  Starting with the belief that all emotions are valid and are a part of being human, participants learn the power of being able to notice, name and navigate both positive and negative emotions.  Key to this ability is an understanding of the role of the emotional brain and the neo-cortex, or rational brain, in regulating emotions.

The Broaden and Build[1] theory on negative and positive emotions and how they can create downward or upward spirals of emotional states is presented.  Participants are introduced to a variety of positive intentional activities such as gratitude, savoring, random acts of kindness and nurturing social relationships that can increase the experience of positive emotions.

In Module 2 the work of Kristin Neff[2] on the role of self-compassion, as opposed to self-criticism, is discussed along with the importance of practicing strategies such as treating ourselves with kindness, sharing a common humanity and building mindfulness.

Module 3 is based on the belief that physical health affects mental health and that becoming stronger and more flexible can increase our vitality, cognitive ability, emotional regulation and immunity.

Participants are reminded of the role of weight bearing exercise in the prevention of osteoporosis, the impact of physical activity on widening and regenerating blood vessels thus reducing vascular disease, and the role of exercise in reducing stress hormones and increasing ‘’feel good’’ hormones.  They are introduced to the concept of non-exercise activity (NEAT) to begin thinking about physical activity beyond going to the gym and doing exercises.  Finally, they learn about the autonomic nervous system and practice breathing techniques as a way of energizing or calming themselves.

Mary and Jeannette are committed to providing retirement coaching to their clients using the training and tools from Retirement Options. The addition of resilience training to their practice helps people flourish even more during their retirement years.


[1] The Resilience Factor, Karen Revitch, PhD and Andrew Shatté, PhD

[2] The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD

[3] Mindset , Dr. Carol S. Dweck

[4] Change your questions change your life, Marilee Adams, PhD

[5] The Art of Possibility, Rosumund Stone Zander, Benjamin Zander

[6] Positivity, Barbara L. Fredrickson, PhD

[7] Self-Compassion, Kristin Neff PhD