“Resilience” is the word for 2021 because it implies hope, faith and opportunity.
Towards the end of December it has become a tradition for big word smiths to choose a word that sums up the common experiences of the year. After Collins Dictionary unveiled its chosen word of the year: Lockdown – “the imposition of strict restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces” – I came across a post from Thrive Global Founder and CEO Arianna Huffington. The article entitled “And the word of the year is. . . Resilience “was a response to the choice of words used by Collins Dictionary and other vendors like Merriam-Webster and Oxford English Dictionary, who picked other predestined words like pandemic, quarantine, doomscrolling and coronavirus.
In her post, Huffington disagreed with the wording, insisting that resilience enables us not just to jump back, but to jump forward: “There is a single word that sums up 2020 and, in a deeper sense, sums up the shared experience of billions of people in this year, ”said Huffington. “That word is resilience. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “the ability to recover quickly from trouble; Toughness. The ability of a substance or an object to get back into shape; Elasticity.’ It is this quality that enables us to overcome challenges, obstacles, difficulties and adversities rather than being conquered by them. The reason resilience is my word of the year is because, unlike quarantine, coronavirus and social distancing, resilience is the only one that will be just as relevant once the pandemic ends. Resilience is the quality that was brought to us in all the challenges of 2020. And it is also the quality that will move us forward until 2021. “
What’s the big deal about a word?
Some people might ask, “What’s the big deal about a word?” But words have enormous power. They guide our thoughts and feelings and can bring us hope or despair, especially as billions of people around the world try to make sense of and go beyond deep pandemic grief and compromised mental health. The American Psychological Association’s report on stress in America found that nearly eight in ten adults say the pandemic is a major source of stress, and 60% are overwhelmed by the problems America is currently facing. Suspected overdose increased 18% in March, 29% in April and 42% in May. According to a recent CDC report, 41% of Americans are struggling with mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, or substance abuse related to the pandemic. These are depressing numbers, but it’s important to remember that our need for resilience is endless, as is our human ability to do so.
Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO of Thrive Global, picks “Resilience” as her Word of the Year.
Evan Agostini / Invision / AP
I agree with Huffington. The word chosen this year has more potential power than ever. Given the challenges of 2020, it’s not difficult to see that resilience is urgently needed this year. And I’m adding resilience as a choice of words for 2020 and 2021. Why? First and foremost, the workforce and everyone on the planet needs resilience to move beyond the mental health issues of the pandemic. Second, many of the iron, chosen words – like lockdown, pandemic, or coronavirus – fall flat, reflecting the limits of human compassion known as “mental numb”. Resilience has the ring of hope, optimism and rebirth. Third, resilience is more open to future growth and opportunity than some of the other closed words that pretty much mean a negative impasse.
A fork in the road
Huffington’s daughter, Isabella Huffington, wrote about the relationship between pain, resilience and spirituality in her first book, Map to the Unknown, published last week as Audible Original. It tells the story of what happened after she was hit by a bike on the streets of New York. What started as a concussion turned into three years of debilitating pain, but also a transformative emotional and spiritual journey of learning to trust the universe and your inner voice. “When something senseless happens that our minds cannot explain, justify or control, it is a fork in the road, a moment of choice,” she writes. “A fork is getting into despair and cynicism and raging in the universe (that’s the path I chose first) or when you’ve never believed in something as amorphous as God or the universe can They double how meaningless life is. Or you can go the other fork: start the journey to find deeper meaning in even the most pointless events of your life. You can let your loss and pain act as a catalyst that separates you from everything that is not needed and brings you to the core of who you are. “
Isabella’s wise words are a gentle reminder that even when we think we don’t, we always have a choice. They are reminiscent of the Stoics who taught that even when we cannot control external events, we can choose how to react. And they are reminiscent of the inspiring account of the psychiatrist Viktor Frankl during his imprisonment in Auschwitz and other camps during the Second World War. In his classic book Man’s Search For Meaning, Frankl described how he was imprisoned in a death camp, where he chose freedom: “When we can no longer change a situation, we are called upon to change ourselves. . . Everything can be taken from a person, except for one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose the attitude under certain circumstances, to choose one’s own path. “
Frankl’s inner freedom helped him survive the Holocaust, find meaning in his personal tragedy, and empower himself. His famous quote has helped millions of people overcome obstacles to this day. This is the epitome of resilience, and that’s why I’m voting for it as the word of the year and for 2021. It brings us hope and confidence that we will always have the power to choose, no matter how dire the circumstances are.
The American workforce and resilience
If anything the American workforce needs for their sanity in 2021 is hope, optimism, and confidence in the potential for the future. Huffington emphasizes, “The power to build resilience lies within us. Just as we can learn other skills through practice, we can teach ourselves to be more resilient. “Some professionals are born with pit bull determination, less stressful and more resilient to change. Others are more prone to the arrows of everyday career pressures. Regardless of where you fall, it is possible to build resilience. We can all adjust to the new year and learn to choose our perspectives and actions in the coming year as they lie ahead of us.
“This has been a tragic year for so many – a year of so many losses and so much grief,” Huffington admits. “Yet the science and wisdom of resilience show us that, as terrible as this year, the long-term effects on our individual and collective lives as a society are not predetermined or fixed. It’s common on social media to want to say goodbye to 2020. However, our goal should be more than just getting through by 2020, which will pass no matter what we do. The New Year will inevitably come, but what kind of year will it be? What lessons will we take with us to make it a year of hope and opportunity? How will we have been transformed based on what we have experienced? It’s up to us. And the more we summon and strengthen our resilience, the more we can move forward into a new and better year. “
Arianna Huffington and Bryan Robinson will be performing Failure safety in 2021 on September 9, 2021.