I’ll admit to a fascination with the concept of resilience, so I grabbed up the Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) of the latest book from Rick Hanson, Ph.D. The full title is long and descriptive: Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness. But don’t let this scare you away. Hanson takes a complex concept, adds layers, and then deconstructs everything so it’s easy to grasp.

Resilient is broken down into four parts, each with three chapters. There’s something about the symmetry of this that makes reading it (or listening to, as I did) go smoothly. And I think that’s part of Hanson’s plan. For me, each part or chapter was like another stone in a gently-balanced cairn.

In addition, he takes three approaches and combines them. The first is his background as a psychologist. Much of this book contains things I’ve heard from therapists over the years. But Hanson takes this perspective and adds layers, making the ideas seem fresh and unique. The second approach is that of Buddhism. Hanson incorporates this softly, with quotes and stories. If Eastern philosophy’s not your thing, I’m guessing you won’t feel forced to agree.

Thirdly, Hanson adds the layer of neuroplasticity, which is the idea that the brain can remake its well-worn behavior pathways with some assistance. Neuroplasticity is an intense scientific concept, but Hanson gives the reader bite size pieces. That helps make it digestible, as does the fact he uses many examples and jargon-free language to explain the ideas.

My conclusions:

I am deeply appreciative of self-help authors who create “Key Concept” sections throughout their book. These are the places I highlight (yes, I had an ebook copy of this as well). When I come back to this book in a few months, it’ll make finding what I want so much easier.

Two of my favorite “key concepts” included the ideas of disentangled and full pardon forgiveness. This is a perfect example of how Hanson imparts his ideas. Contained in the fourth part, titled Relating, and in the chapter on Generosity, he’s found a perfect spot for the ideas. If they’d been introduced earlier on, I might not have been ready—just as it feels with real-life forgiveness. And Hanson doesn’t force his readers to forgive in full pardon, recognizing it’s just not always possible. Instead, he offers a mid-way point with disentangled forgiveness. Thus, the participant in resilience is able to benefit from the information, while still being on the path of growth.

I recommend this book to seekers, and also to those looking for a way to incorporate techniques to build neuroplasticity into everyday life. It’s well worth your time!


Many thanks to NetGalley, the authors, and Crown Publishing / Harmony for the digital ARC in exchange for this honest review.