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Out of life’s school of war.

Yesterday I left you with a positive outlook, imagining a perfect symbiosis with a seemingly harmful companion - the inner parasite. Her manifestation of care is providing a system for resistance and tolerance cultivation. Today I would like to wander around the concept of resistance and more specifically resilience, as this term is often used in the context of self. Resilience is defined by our ability to get back to original shape after being affected by external or internal circumstances. This quality is often glorified as it allows to withstand (resistance) or recover (resilience) from disruptions. Easy right? Something bad happens, we are able to withstand it, what more do we want?

I propose we stay and explore this process. As described above, the relationship we have with the environment is one-sided. There is an event which affects us and the only goal is to maintain the solidity of our initial state. Resilience is our ability to be flexible, but only within a limited and defined space, its main characteristic is to bounce back. At a first glance, it is a useful quality. When we face disappointment, defeat or failure we get back up and continue as if nothing happened. But it is an illusion that things will go back to where it started. Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book Antifragile expands the definition of resilience which I think is a better way to explore the process of dealing with external disruptions. The resilient mind resists shocks and stays the same but the antifragile gets better.

We need shocks, risks, randomness and uncertainty to thrive and discover new territories. Antifragility entails the possibility of a fruitful disruption when the stressor is transformed into a positive experience. Every movement is a burst of energy. It knows no meaning and is free of judgement. Once it is released and moving towards us, the energy gains meaning transforming into a powerful weapon that hits us mercilessly. But think about it, when you wind a watch you apply energy that is being transformed into the movement of its hands. But you can also unscrew a lightbulb or roll a piece of paper between your hands with the similar effort as winding the watch. So what is happening here is that the same energy is translated into different things. It opens up a much wider understanding about the possibilities stressors and disturbances bring to us. It is a game of creating new things out of unsettling experiences.

Once energy with positive or negative charge reaches us in a meaningful way, we translate its energy load to information. This transmutation allows to change our relationship with the disruptive event and develop more rational understanding of it. This is the essence of antifragility. I do want to mention that even if i find this concept very useful, I am not convinced by the term itself. Antifragility is defined through a rejection of weakness. prefix anti introduces an opposition showing it is own weakness. I am hopeful of the possibility to see the state of being fragile, weak or broken as a different set of circumstances emerging out of a disruption. Ancient Japanese practice of repairing broken porcelain with gold, called kintsugi, is a beautiful example when disruptive energy gives birth to beauty and increase in value. Try to find some antifragility in your day, once something breaks you in pieces, use this chance to repair yourself with gold.

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