I watched and enjoyed a portion of this PBS documentary tonight that discussed happiness.
One of the topics discussed was resilience. They interviewed Bob Schumaker who was shot down over Vietnam and spent 8 years as a POW. He was tortured and held in solitary confinement for almost 3 years. He discussed all of the ways he stayed sane and optimistic through a horrible trauma.
First, he dreamed. One of his main dreams was of the house he planned to build for his wife and baby son when he returned. He worked and reworked the plans in his mind, down to how many nails and how many square feet of plywood he would use. After his release, he built it.
Even though he was prevented from being with other prisoners, they developed a tap code so they could communicate through the walls. He demonstrates this amazing system here. The POWs even went so far as to teach one another classes using the tap codes on everything from French to music to television repair. The social support was vital to getting through the horrors of being imprisoned. Without the tap code, the POWs would have gone mad, or worse.
Bob said he would have not changed his experience for anything, despite the pain. He said he never gave up or doubted that he would come through it. He said he never regretted the time that he lost or what he suffered because he learned so much about himself through the experience. After his release, he had a happy marriage and a great relationship with his son (who he never met until he was 8 years old), and just loved life. His facial expressions and tone of voice clearly reflected his happiness.
And if he can do it, why can't I?