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It's good to have bounce in your step

Have you read the writings of Gail Godwin? If so, you may recognize this passage”

“There are two kinds of people. One kind, you can tell just by looking at them at what point they congealed into their final selves. It might be a very nice self, but you know you can expect no more surprises from it. Whereas, the other kind keep moving, changing. With these people, you can never say, ‘X stops here,’ or, ‘Now I know all there is to know about Y.’ That doesn’t mean they’re unstable. Ah, no, far from it. They are fluid. They keep moving forward and making new trysts with life, and the motion of it keeps them young. ... You must be constantly on your guard against congealing. If you ever feel it coming, you must do something quickly.”

I came upon this reference on a website called “The Internet Monk,” and as often happens for me, a specific word, in this case “congealing,” captured my attention.

Some experts immediately resonate with the word and are inclined to begin an informed discourse on “the importance of resilience in healthy aging,” defining it as an individual’s ability to “adapt and successfully cope with change or misfortune.”

Other experts suggest self-examination. I encourage you to check out an easy-use resilience measurement (www.resiliencescale.com/) that assesses personal competence and individual acceptance of self and situation. It is a delightful online self-test, and it has the most captivating graphics. My favorite is the beauteous display of bright-red tulips, each one frosted with snow. The little test takes less than 10 minutes and offers ideas on how to improve if your score comes up lower than you might prefer.

Resilient people are said to “flourish” and “find balance and keep going amidst tumult and confusion.” Resilience is grounded on a sense of personal balance and openness to new ideas. Resilient people embrace possibilities. I am resilient when I understand my own strengths and anticipate, rather than fear, life’s challenges and changes. I call up a vision of myself at age 85 and like what I see — vigor, eagerness, a certain bounce perhaps.

Some people seem to age more easily, exude greater contentment through the years. They may move with bent backs, but they move with purpose. They smile more. They laugh easily. There is a feeling of openness and energy about them. When confronted with loss and tragedy, they recover more quickly than you expect. We recognize them. We know who they are.

What makes certain people adapt better than others? “Can resiliency be developed, nurtured and implanted?” Arizona State University has studied “knowledge exchange for resilience” and offers ideas on community resilience,” which they define as “the capacity for communities, institutions and individuals to respond and adapt to shocks and long-term stresses.” ASU is defining resiliency as “the capacity of individuals and communities to bounce back from adversity and even thrive in a world of turmoil and change.” Let’s keep our eyes on resources like the ones mentioned above.

For now, keep this in mind: anything with a little bounce is far less likely to congeal.

Sharon Johnson is a retired pr associate professor emeritus at Oregon State University. Reach her at sharjohn99@gmail.com.