Bruce Lee’s wisdom on resilience
Psychologists define resilience as one’s adaptive capacity to life while overcoming disadvantages, setbacks or highly distressing conditions. It can come in many forms—a dysfunctional family, poor health, straining relationships, or work and financial woes.
What is resilience?
Resilience is one’s ability to robustly bounce back from a negative exp
erience. Resilience isn’t a magical seed planted in some, rather, a process all of us go through in which we create our identities and discover our abilities.
It also isn’t freedom from negative feelings and thoughts, rather being able to navigate them to a constructive place where one can remain optimistic and generate solutions to press on.
Resilience was of great importance to actor and martial arts legend Bruce Lee as kung fu required an abundance of strength from both mind and body. Growing frustrated when he was unable to master the “art of detachment,” Bruce Lee expressed a distressing dilemma that came from his own self-consciousness.
His instructor, Prof. Yip, then said, “Loong, preserve yourself by following the natural bends of things and don’t interfere. Remember never to assert yourself against nature; never be in frontal opposition to any problems, but control it by swinging with it. Don’t practise this week: Go home and think about it.”
Bruce lee’s legacy
Lee took the week off and after this, shared a wisdom that has become part of his legacy:
“After spending many hours meditating and practising, I gave up and went sailing alone in a junk.On the sea I thought of all my past training and got mad at myself and punched the water!
Right then, at that moment, a thought suddenly struck me. Was not this water the very essence of kung fu? Hadn’t this water just now illustrated to me the principle of kung fu? I struck it but it did not suffer hurt.
Again I struck it with all of my might—yet it was not wounded! I then tried to grasp a handful of it but this proved impossible. This water, the softest substance in the world, which could be contained in the smallest jar, only seemed weak. In reality, it could penetrate the hardest substance in the world. That was it! I wanted to be like the nature of water.”
It was then that Lee knew, in order to take control of his life, he need be without emotion but instead allow his feelings and views to be fluid like water. That acceptance of himself and his circumstances was to move with and not against his nature.
A resilient mind and heart, like water, is supple and able to shift forms; from steam that can split the earth to mighty rocks of ice that can withstand ships.
From strong cascades that smooth rocks to refreshing springs that cool and invigorate. In order to be resilient, like water, you must trickle through the cracks to the other side and be one with the tides.