Fall Seven Times, Stand Up Taller

Fall Seven Times, Stand Up Taller

Two important new books on a revolution in thinking about resilience

Rising Strong
The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution.
By Brené Brown
Spiegel & Grau

A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient
By Jane McGonigal
Penguin Press

“Oh, you’ll get over it,” your mother may have told you. But an emerging area in science tells us: Don’t get over it. Leverage it. Better yet, springboard off it into a magnificent double flip. This is the science of posttraumatic growth, and in new books out this month, two renowned authors take on the subject of human resiliency.

Jane McGonigal, PhD, is a game expert who has created alternate reality games to help solve problems like climate change. (Listen in on a recent conversaiton wtih McGonigal on the S&H podcast, Essential Conversations here.) After suffering a brain injury and sinking into a cloudy, muddled depression, she tapped into her experience and used “gameful thinking” to help herself heal. The resulting game, SuperBetter, is simple: adopt a secret identity, recruit allies, battle the bad guys, seek out quests, and activate power-ups. McGonigal shared her game on a website, and it’s helped 400,000 people find their natural resilience to deal with challenges like unemployment or chronic illness.

McGonigal drew on the game’s success, as well as hundreds of scientific papers and her own National Institutes of Health research, to write SuperBetter. Game play, she reports, can reduce anxiety and pain, and boost our ability to motivate ourselves. After reading this book, you’ll be ready to don your own superhero mask and leap over whatever tall buildings are in your life’s way.

“You may not have signed up for a hero’s journey,” writes Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, in her book, Rising Strong. “But the second you fell down, got your butt kicked, suffered a disappointment, screwed up, or felt your heart break, it started.” Brown is a professor at the University of Houston and a masterful storyteller in addition to her work as a researcher. She writes about life as an arena, and how a “facedown moment” is not a failure, but an opportunity. Brown explores how to rise back onto our feet after personal or professional challenges, by being willing to deal with discomfort rather than running from it. Brown calls this “rumbling.” It doesn’t take some inborn courage; it takes integrity, boundaries, generosity, and communication. “We just have to be willing to walk into our stories and rumble,” Brown says. Her book is a beacon for all us burgeoning superheroes, calling us to live a fuller existence.

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