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What is “Hardiness” and Why Does it Matter?

I was sitting in my psychology class the other day mindlessly taking notes and ruminating about upcoming exams, papers and other obligations when my professor diverted to a subject that couldn’t be more apt to my situation: “coping with stress”. While discussing different methods of coping, one thing that stood out to me was the effect of certain personality traits on stress management, and how one trait in particular can massively influence how a person reacts to unpleasant situations: “hardiness”. While many people may cope with stress by using forms of distraction and avoidance, high-hardiness individuals do the exact opposite- in fact, they increase their interaction with stress and tackle problems directly. Upon learning about this trait, my professor had us take a quiz to measure our own “hardiness” (you can find out yours by clicking here) and we discussed the three main components that comprise this personality trait: commitment, control and challenge. While “commitment” and “control” encompass a person’s belief in individual responsibility and the transformative power of adversity, “challenge”  is the idea of accepting change as a means for opportunity and growth. Why does this matter? Simply put, life is unexpected. We can’t predict what will happen tomorrow, but we can choose to embrace the fact that new growth and opportunity will result from whatever comes our way. I have found that utilizing stressful situations as a means of growth has had a huge impact on me personally. For example, there was a time at my part-time job when we were understaffed, and unexpected problem arose in which I took the initiative to work long shifts in order to keep our business afloat. In doing so, I was promoted. This is just a minor example, but I have seen this attitude prevail in many powerful and impactful ways, such as when “Little Miss Flint” used her voice (at only 8 years old) to write a letter to President Obama asking to bring the Flint water crisis to light. She gained notoriety and exposure which she used to ask for donations and crowdfunding for backpacks and other resources for her community. She took a problem that many people felt helpless about and channeled an opportunity to make a difference as she continues to be an ambassador for her community. The impact of which possessing this trait of taking initiative during duress is endless, and who knows? You may inspire a few (or thousands) of people along the way.