See Inside Scientific American Mind Volume 24, Issue 3

Enhance Your Resilience

Scientists have compiled evidence-based tactics for building resilience. Among them: rethink adversity, forge close friendships and tackle novel challenges

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As a college student at Brown University, Jerry White spent his junior year abroad studying in Israel. On a sunny day during the Passover holiday in April 1984, White and two friends set out for a camping trip in the Golan Heights. “I was walking out ahead of my friends with a song in my heart. I like being the leader, the one out in front,” he recalls. “Then, boom! A huge explosion.” He had stepped on a land mine. As blood poured from his leg, White screamed, “I have no foot! I have no foot!”

White's friends wrapped his stump with a shirt, tied a makeshift tourniquet around the injured leg and carried him through what they now knew was a minefield. For the next four months White lived in two Israeli hospitals where he felt helpless, sad and alone. “People were trying to introduce themselves, but they were all missing arms, legs, eyes, or they were burn victims. I felt sick and afraid,” he says.

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