Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Resiliency part 3: United we stand - Divided we fall

by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

2/13/2013 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla -- Part 3 of 4

There are roughly 7 billion people in the world, 314 million in the United States, and more than 329,000 in our U.S. Air Force.

With so many people working and living in proximity to one another, it goes without saying that social resilience is an essential element of healthy functioning.

From the dawn of mankind, our adaptive human nature and ability to interact socially have transformed us into diversely unique individuals, further solidifying our ability to adjust to changing group dynamics.

As we know, wolves hunt in packs and lions in groups. By doing so they are able to bring down prey that would have been nearly impossible to conquer independently. Us as humans tend to adopt a similar concept, yet, one of a more evolved nature.

Although working in teams is common, often times we interact with others only when the situation dictates, isolating others when they are not needed. This type of thinking is passive-destructive and only hinders our ability to fully function in society.

Ideally, a socially resilient culture would be comprised of people whose expertise and backgrounds are vastly diverse.

Take sports for example; how successful would a baseball team be if their line-up consisted of only pitchers? Lackluster to say the least, you need dissimilar specialties.

John Cacioppo, director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience and author of Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, found that "Socially resilient individuals value diverse perspectives and recognize that many tasks require coordination among persons with differing backgrounds, values, and priorities."

In layman's terms, get out there, meet people, enjoy cultural differences, and share experiences. You will become more well-rounded and proficient in your daily endeavors.

We are truly blessed to be Americans and because of the freedoms bestowed, we have the privilege of living among so many different ethnicities, religions, backgrounds and interests.

Those who embrace social interaction and recognize the advantages of groups made up of diverse individuals often respond more adaptively to unforeseen problems and challenges, making daily tasks easier to accomplish.

Like the other three pillars of wellness, social resiliency starts with you!

"Social resiliency cannot be encapsulated into a simple, do this, do that mentality," notes U.S. Air Force Capt. Jeremy Pallas, licensed clinical social worker at MacDill Air Force Base. "However, by intentionally engaging in altruistic or pleasurable social activities, you will discover the benefits of getting out of the house and growing from those around you."

One of the best ways of accomplishing this and to ease your way into a more interactive lifestyle is by joining groups, such as sports teams, cooking classes or crafting groups.

Subconsciously, by joining these pleasurable groups you are targeting your psychological well-being, releasing endorphins and increasing serotonin levels, which positively balance your mood.

Have you ever heard of the saying, "too much of a good thing can be a bad thing?" Well, that can definitely be the case with social resiliency.

We have all worked with "that guy," whose such a flamboyant extravert that nobody wants to be around him.

Smothering people through too much social interaction can be abrasive and deter them from wanting to be around you. Be sure not to overdo it.

Likewise, if you avoid interaction and confrontation, this too will likely discourage people from interacting with you.

No matter what level your social resilience is on, there is always room for improvement or preventative maintenance. Even if you think your resiliency is top notch, do not hesitate to call your local helping agencies for a brief refresher.

Remember, the folks at your mental health office, family advocacy, base chapel, Health and Wellness Center and Airman & Family Readiness Center are available to get you active, boost your confidence and bolster your personal resiliency.

Information from the U.S. Air Force resiliency program, the Mayo Foundation for Education and Medical Research, and the American Psychological Association was used as source material for this article.

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