Psychologists use the term Hardy to describe people who respond relatively well to stress. Hardiness is associated with three C’s: Control, Challenge, and Commitment. 

Control. When you fail to control what is under your influence – or try to control things that are not – you create stress for yourself. Good coping strategies involve taking appropriate control over life situations you can influence. This approach is a lot like the Serenity Prayer used in Alcoholics Anonymous: “God grant me the serenity to change the things I can/The courage to accept the things I cannot change/And the wisdom to know the difference.”

You must identify situations in which you have control. The fact those situations may be stressful is irrelevant. You must act within your circle of control by facing stress, and generating positive consequences of your actions

Challenge. If you knew what tomorrow will bring, what would your life be like? Boooring! Let’s face it, uncertainty and anxiety-provoking adventures make life exciting and challenging. You find yourself faced with a continuous series of problems and tasks. If you perceive your problems, responsibilities, and obstructions as challenges – not as potentially catastrophic events – you will be less stressed and perform better over the long run.

Yes, you increase your stress over the short term by facing challenges, but as you resolve them you experience lower stress and better psychological health over the long term.

Commitment. Psychological research shows it is less stressful to be committed to the demands of life, such as work, relationships, and parenting. If you are not committed to your responsibilities, problems will build-up and, over the long haul, you will have more stress. You will also have fewer feelings of accomplishment.

It’s the bottom of the 9th inning and your team is ahead 3-2. You are playing shortstop, and the bases are loaded. You have a choice. You can think: “God, I hope the ball is not hit to me. I could make an error and lose the game.” Or, you could think: “I want the ball to come to me. This is my opportunity to help win the game. After all, isn’t that why I’m out here?” Which “you” will enjoy the game more and have a greater chance of success? 

Control, Challenge, Commitment. Accept the importance of maximizing these three “C’s.” By doing so you may face more hurdles, but you will also be more successful in overcoming them. Avoiding obstacles is a losing coping strategy; facing obstacles will bring you more confidence, higher self-esteem, and provide you with more satisfaction about your role in life.

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