It is possible to rise up from adversity, there are strategies that work, we are able to make ourselves think and act in certain ways that help navigate the tough times, whatever they may be." - Dr Lucy Hone
Resilience expert Dr Lucy Hone is more aware than most that people can choose different ways of thinking and acting to help them navigate terrible life moments.
Following the tragic death of her 12 year old daughter and two close family friends, Lucy was forced to sink or swim. In retrospect though, she now counts herself lucky she had skills to draw upon from her in depth training in resilience and positive psychology - skills that enabled her and her family to avoid becoming statistics of mental illness following the most challenging adversity that life could throw at them.
Lucy is on a mission to empower schools, teachers, students, and organisations to learn about the scientific methods shown to promote resilience.
Her work is centered around letting people know that they have a choice about how they think and act, and that there are evidence-based strategies to help us cope. A highly regarded academic researcher, Lucy specialises in taking the best scientific findings out of academia and bringing them to people in their everyday lives, delivering practical insights to enhance wellbeing.
With the majority of time and funding focused on the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, New Zealand’s current ‘sickness model’ of mental health needs to change.
It is time to teach our children - and ourselves - how to navigate life in a way that breeds resilience not dependency, or despondency.
Lucy trained with the best of the best, Dr Martin Seligman and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania USA. Interestingly at the time, the institution had also picked up the responsibility of training all 1.1 million American soldiers in resilience and good mental health post deployment - you can’t get a much tougher audience than that!
Upon her return home to Christchurch, to start her doctoral research, Canterbury’s 2010 and 2011 earthquakes hit. She put her research on hold (later completing her PhD in Wellbeing Science/Public Health through AUT University in Auckland), and started working with her home community. She worked with government departments, companies and community groups, teaching them the ways of thinking and acting that science knows boosts resilience. Lucy thought that was her moment to put all of that research to good use, but sadly she was wrong.
Her own test came in 2014 on Queen's Birthday weekend while heading off on a trip with her husband, three children and two other families.
Her 12-year-old daughter Abi decided to hop in the car with her best friend Ella, 12, and Ella's mum Sally, a dear friend of Lucy’s. As they traveled south, a car sped through a stop sign, crashing into them and killing all three of them instantly. In the blink of an eye, instead of being the resilience expert, she was the grieving mother. Suddenly she was the one on the end of all the well-meant expert advice. Leaflets described the five stages of grief: anger, bargaining, denial, depression and acceptance. A support group told them they could expect to write off the next five years to grief. But what Lucy needed most was HOPE. So she decided instead to conduct a self experiment with the knowledge and tools she had. She didn’t know if it would work. Thankfully for all of us and for her own family, it did.
Parental bereavement is widely acknowledged as the hardest of losses to bear but Lucy now knows, after her own five year journey, it is possible to rise up from adversity, that there are strategies that work, that you are able to make yourself think and act in certain ways that help navigate the tough times, whatever they may be.
Lucy shares the three strategies she relied upon and that saved her in her darkest days. These three strategies underpin her work and they're readily available to anyone to learn.
Resilient people use these very ordinary processes. Be willing to give them a go, especially when life throws a curveball at you. None of us are immune. Lucy Hone is the perfect example of how if you lean into the strategies, it is possible to live and enjoy moments of life, even in times when you think you will never come out of the darkness.
PEPTALK is a social enterprise who seek to empower this generation and the next, by helping people realise and embrace their innate ability to enhance their own mental wellbeing. We deliver the knowledge, tools, and strategies that enable adults, teen, and children to harness this ability, through the empowering products we sell, the uplifting events we host, and our engaging magazine; we commit our profits to funding impacts that empower children and teens.