The Best Books About Building Resilience

July 13, 2021

If there’s anything the past year and a half has shown us, it’s that learning to cope with stress, setbacks, and challenges in life is essential to maintaining our health and well-being. 

The key to these qualities is resilience. 

Resilience is defined as the ability to recover quickly from setbacks and hardship.

Resilience is a strength that resides in each of us, but how much we develop it, and how much it affects how we handle stressors and challenges in life, varies from person to person.

Luckily, just like our emotional intelligence, resilience is a skill that can be developed.

The Best Books About Building Resilience

Our list includes a variety of titles to help build resilience. Some are straightforward self-help books, and others are memoir-style titles to help offer perspective on how others have dealt with hardship.

Here are our top picks for books about resilience:

Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back

Andrew Zolli and Anne Marie Healey

This book takes a social and ecological approach to discover what makes one person more resilient than another. In it, authors Zolli and Healey posit that the key to bouncing back from adversity could be more about perspective than we think.

Their research takes them “from business planning to social development, from urban planning to national energy security – circumstances that affect us all,” to show how adopting a “resilient” approach to life can change the outcomes of how well someone can bounce back from adversity and, ultimately, survive hardships.

The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles

Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte Ph.D.

Reivich and Shatte are both resilience coaches who specialize in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and offer strategies to strengthen your resilience in both short and long-term situations. 
You’ll start out by assessing your own resilience, and discover strategies to help you deal with criticism, negative self-image, coping with grief and anxiety, and how to overcome obstacles in your personal and professional relationships, and much more.

Freedom From Anxious Thoughts and Feelings: A Two-Step Mindfulness Approach for Moving Beyond Fear and Worry 

by Scott Symington, PhD

According to the Centre for Mental Health, 40% of Canadian respondents agreed they have experienced feelings of anxiety or depression. If you’re among this group, then this book’s practical approach to stopping anxious thoughts is a must-read.

In the book, Symington proposes a “two-screen method,” which can help stop anxious thoughts as soon as they appear. 

This process uses what the author calls the three anchors: mindfulness skills, healthy distractions, and loving action.

This book acts as a blueprint that you can use to deal with anxious emotions in practical, easy-to-understand ways. 

Resilience: Navigating Life, Loss, and the Road to Success

by Lisa Lisson

This book is an autobiography that follows author Lisa Lisson as she navigates crises, moments of joy, and learns to become a confident leader and to find balance and happiness in her life along the way.

She was enjoying life as an executive for FedEx Canada when her husband had an extreme medical emergency, and everything changed in an instant.

The book chronicles Lisa’s challenges taking care of their four children, navigating her high-stress job, and learning to roll with the punches and to not get discouraged.

Ready to start building your skills? Start with our book as your go-to- resource.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

According to Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, resilience comes from deep within us and from supports outside of us. In this poignant book the author of Lean In shares how devastating events can help us grow by giving us opportunities to appreciate our lives and what we have in the present moment.

Part how-to, part memoir, Sandberg and Grant use research and practical advice throughout several chapters to raising resilient kids and finding strength in family. Sandberg shares her reflections on how helping kids discover their unique strengths is essential to helping raise resilient children and communities.

Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness

by Rick Hanson, PhD

Rick Hanson, PhD, is a neuropsychologist and founder of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

In his view, the key to developing resilience is to build qualities like appreciation, grit, and compassion. Hanson says that resilience helps us recover from loss and trauma, and a whole lot more.

This book, which is based on his research, offers up practical strategies to build resilience and increase your overall sense of well-being.

Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

by Brené Brown, PhD

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include a title from resilience pioneer Breneé Brown on this list.

Her sensible, smart, and practical approach to talking about issues like shame, courage, and worthiness has made her an international sensation, and a leading voice on the topics of emotional intelligence and resilience.

In Rising Strong, Brown asserts that the only way to more love, belonging, and a greater sense of well-being and happiness is learning to be vulnerable. Packed with insights from her 20+ years of research, Rising Strong will help you lean into your discomfort and learn to get back up after a setback.

Keep Developing Your Resilience!

Resilience is something that we always continue to learn about and develop, and these books are a great start as they offer up diverse perspectives and approaches.

To take a more hands-on approach to developing your resilience, Resilience Booster course ($49) with video instruction, downloadable journaling pages for exercises and a certificate of completion.

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