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The importance of resilience and practising gratitude

Stacey Copas became a quadriplegic at just 12 years old, and has now built a career around fostering the concepts of resilience and gratitude in others.

After becoming a quadriplegic at the age of 12, Ms Copas says she suffered through many years of anger and frustration.

But Ms Copas – CEO of The Academy of Resilience, as well as the author of the book How To Be Resilient then learnt how to embrace the life that she has been given, and completely changed her own perceptions of her disability.

Now in her 40s, Ms Copas has spent the last decade of her life as a keynote speaker on overcoming adversity and embracing resilience through the concept of gratitude, an idea that she encourages others to embrace in times of hardship.

Speaking on The Wellness Daily Show, Ms Copas described that “resilience” is a term that can often be reduced to mean simply “coping”, however she sees the term as being bigger than that.

“Resilience is the ability to learn from and grow through challenges and change”, Ms Copas said.

“It’s more about growing through things, rather than merely going through them.

“And it’s more about how we actually thrive in challenging situations, rather than just survive in challenging situations.”

In addition to resilience, Ms Copas fosters the concept of gratitude in the face of challenging circumstances, a key component of her current philosophy.

“What I’ve discovered is the power of gratitude,” Ms Copas said.

“So, the ‘reframe’ in any [challenging] situation is saying thank you, no matter how crappy a situation feels, no matter how overwhelming it is, how challenging it is. 

“If we actually just stop, in that moment, and go ‘thank you for the opportunity to be who I am, where I am, right now with what I have’, because we can’t feel bad about something we’re grateful for.

“So, thats just an immediate shift that we can take.” 

In conjunction with the concept of gratitude, Ms Copas encourages individuals to question what it is they can learn from living through the challenges that they are facing.

“The next step in that situation is going, Well, what’s the lesson in this? What’s the opportunity? What do I need to learn from this situation? And that doesn’t always come, we dont get the answer immediately,” Ms Copas said.

“Sometimes that can take weeks, months, years. Sometimes we go, Wow, now I know why that happened. And then just seeing how we can share that with somebody else.” 

She stated that in the face of difficult times, the simple act of saying thank you, and asking yourself what can I learn/teach others from this experience, “changes the energy around a situation straight away.”

Ms Copas stated that practicing gratitude can be difficult for some people, at first, however it is important to recognise everyday as providing great opportunity, and things to be grateful for.

“The [phrase] that I use is, Thank you for the opportunity to be who I am, where I am, with what I have at this moment in time. And that just really [helps affirm] that wherever we are is a good place to be, no matter how it feels at the time,” she said. 

“So, that really just [helps really] shift the way we feel about situations.”

To listen to the full conversation with Stacey Copas, click below:

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“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain