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Emotional Resilience

Happiness Hurdles A friend betrays a confidence.

Smart moves: Broken trusts often force people to face unpleasant truths they were trying to ignore. Should you have seen this betrayal coming? Were there clues you chose to overlook? Perhaps you knew this person had betrayed other friends but you didn't want to believe she'd do it to you. If so, tell yourself you've learned a lesson about whom to trust in the future. You must also decide if you care enough about this friend to confront her, and you may be worrying about how she'll respond. If all she offers are denials and excuses, you might choose to end the friendship. But you'll know you gave her a chance to explain herself and made clear what you expect from a friend.

You were passed over for a promotion.

Smart moves: You're entitled to feel lousy—for a while. But keep these feelings in check at the office, where displays of anger or self-pity don't serve you well. Share them with a trusted relative or friend. Write them in a journal or talk them into a tape recorder. "Don't censor yourself," suggests Haidt, author of The Happiness Hypothesis (Basic Books). "Just write what happened, how you feel about it, and why you feel that way." This will help hurt and anger dissipate. "Then you'll be ready to find the lesson in the disappointment," says Siebert, author of The Resiliency Advantage (Berrett-Koehler).

You might want to talk to someone in your human resources department to find out if there's something you're doing or not doing that prevented the promotion. You could say, "I'm disappointed. I thought I was qualified. What do I need to do to show that I am?" Doing this will make you feel better because you'll know you took steps to improve your chances of being promoted next time. "Resilience is something you do, not something you have," says Siebert.

You want a closer relationship with your sister now that you're both moms, but she doesn't seem interested.

Smart moves: Tell yourself that you could be misinterpreting your sister's response. It may not be closeness she's rejecting but simply the ways you're trying to achieve it. You may want your families to have dinner together every Sunday, for example, while she prefers to reserve Sundays to relax. Swallow your hurt and ask her to suggest activities she'd enjoy. Perhaps a family bike ride on Saturday sounds like more fun to her. Or maybe she'd prefer to see you alone for lunch and a movie. You can pursue other interests on your own. "Your family can't fill every need," says Reivich. "That's what book groups and hiking clubs are for." Networking with people who share your interests will lift your spirits and make your sister's coolness hurt a little less.

You got lost on the way to a cousin's wedding and missed the ceremony.

Smart moves: When you feel disappointed, acknowledge it, but don't wallow. And don't let it detract from someone else's happiness on a special day. "Resilient people hope they'll accomplish their goals, but they know that sometimes they won't," says Siebert. That's when they turn to Plan B. If you arrive at the church as the ceremony is ending, you can still enjoy the setting and join guests in congratulating the newlyweds. You can ask relatives to tell you what you've missed and to share any photos they've taken—and you can still attend the reception. "What you do in response to disappointments has a direct impact on your well-being," says Haidt.

Your son didn't get accepted to the college of his choice.

Smart moves: He may act as if he doesn't care, but don't believe it. He needs your compassion and support as he deals with this disappointment and considers his options. Some parents take a child's college rejection harder than the child does. If this is true of you, Reivich suggests coming up with a phrase you can repeat to yourself when you start obsessing. You might remind yourself that many kids don't get into their first-choice school but are perfectly happy where they end up. You may have to say this to yourself often before you start believing it, says Reivich. But once you do, you'll be calmer and more able to focus on helping your child.

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