Mental resilience (or equanimity) is the ability to maintain a sense of calm and composure at all times especially in adversity. It is the mental ability to be emotionally undisturbed by experiences that others may struggle with (Turnbull, et al., 2010).
One of the criticisms levelled against Peaget and Kohlberg, the pioneers of moral development, is that they focused heavily on pro-social behaviour such as empathy, compassion, altruism and justice (Gibbs, 2019). All these moral values are extremely important, but the bias may mean that other moral values – despite being equally important in our lives – are ignored. Equanimity is one example.
Studies have shown that equanimity has enormous benefits to our mental wellbeing. Stoltz, (1997) posited that people with greatest equanimity regardless of their skills, intelligence or innate talents tend to be healthier, wealthier and happier.This also means that the lack of it makes us sicker and poorer. According to Centre for Mental Health, (2010) mental ill health is the largest single cause of disability and counting for up to a fifth of overall ill health burden. In England, mental ill health costs well over £150 billion every year.
In their book, Put Your Mindset to Work, James Reed, Chairman of one of the leading Recruitment Companies in the world and Dr. Paul G. Stoltz, reveal that 97% of employers would prefer candidates with higher equanimity ahead of those with high academic performance, IQ, talent or experience when recruiting (Reed & Stoltz, 2011).
In my book ‘Strength for living” I quoted James Reed as saying “When I think of my own children and the qualities I would like them to take into adulthood I would obviously like them to be mentally tough and resilient people so that they cannot merely cope with change and uncertainty but flourish in a world in which change and uncertainty look likely to be the defining characteristics.” (Maturlu, 2015, p57)
Dr. Scott Snook, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration at Harvard Business School also said, “Next to unconditional love, the one gift I would give my children – over and above IQ, good looks, physical prowess, etc. – would be …[emotional] resilience – the ability to respond effectively to adversity in our lives.” (p. 57)
Clearly, mental resilience is one of the most important virtue that all of us, especially our young children, must learn.
As mentioned earlier all of us do go through adversity but some of us come out worse than others. Children and those with some form of cognitive dysfunctions struggle to regulate their emotions compared to the rest of us. Even among adults there is a great variation in how we cope with hard-times. For example, men tend to be affected by relationship breakdown compared to women. Kposowa,(2003) noted that divorced men are more than eight times more likely to die by suicide than divorced women. Scourfield and Evans, (2015) suggests that men are disproportionately at risk of suicide in almost every country in the world that reports suicide rates .In the United States, for instance, in 2010, the ratio of men to women dying by suicide was almost four to one.
The same can be said about this Corona pandemic. Although “we are in this together” some people are affected more than others. By this, I do not just mean financial, social or health differences. I mean emotionally. Although some are drowning in sorrows others, who perhaps have suffered greater damage, seem to be upbeat and calm.
Now, the question is what determines this difference? We will try to answer this question shortly, but next, let us discuss about the roots of our emotions.