In the face of adversity, how do we feel good and function well?

Denise talks to Dr. Lucy Hone about the importance of resilience after loss and in daily life.

Lucy shares her personal resilience journey and discusses simple, effective strategies to maintain our wellbeing even in the most challenging times.



Dr Lucy Hone, a Director of NZIWR™, researches and publishes on measurement and promotion of population wellbeing. She is a research associate at AUT University and writes for Psychology Today and The Sunday Star Times. Lucy is a best-selling author, a member of the NZAPP executive committee and a policy advisor for Canterbury’s Alright? campaign.


The lowdown

Resilience is about steering through the adversity, challenges and changes in our daily lives. It also means learning from these experiences through our lifetime. The field of resilience research focuses on what helps people to maintain wellbeing during tough times and what gets in the way of us coping with life’s inevitable ups and downs.

Humans use their capacity for resilience in four different ways:

  1. To overcome obstacles from childhood;
  2. To deal with the stresses and struggles of daily life;
  3. To help us adapt to big life changes;
  4. To help us have the confidence to reach out and do something new.

In most of these situations, resilience is reactive but proactive resilience is important for moving forward.

Resilience is not a fixed trait – the capacity to grow resilience resides within us all. Ordinary processes or ‘ordinary magic’ equip us to do this in our everyday lives. This includes using our strengths, resources and social support.

Recognising that struggle and failure are normal parts of life is important and is something that teachers can help their students to understand. Drawing students’ attention back to when they have prevailed in testing circumstances in the past is a way to build their self-efficacy and consequently, their resilience.

Some key strategies to build resilience during times of grief and loss include:

  • Asking yourself ‘what am I hoping for now?’ as there can always be hope even in the most dire circumstances
  • Being an active participant in the grieving process by asking yourself ‘is this helping or harming my wellbeing?’
  • Focus your attention on what is good and what you can change


Additional resources

Grab a copy of Lucy’s book ‘What Abi taught us’:

Check out Lucy’s blog on Psychology Today:

Watch Lucy’s presentation on promoting wellbeing in schools:

Read more about resilience and ‘ordinary magic’ in Ann Masten’s book: