What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to survive and thrive under different conditions — the greater the variety of futures you can thrive in, the more resilient you are. It is a necessary part of sustainability. Resilience is mostly about diversifying, putting our eggs in multiple baskets.  Fire insurance is a good example. We don’t buy fire insurance because we think a fire will occur, but because it may, and if it does, it could really mess things up in our lives. Thus, we pay for fire insurance and hope we will never use it. This is part of the nature of resilience.

In the world of financial investment, diversification is the word used. We diversify across multiple investment vehicles (stocks, futures, cash), multiple brokerage firms, and even among different trading strategies (e.g., trend following, buy-and-hold) to increase our financial resilience.

As “Business as Usual” (BAU) economy becomes less and less rewarding, it makes sense to diversify out of that economy into other forms of wealth and well-being production. For a discussion of this and ideas about how to diversify, see Schor, Juliet B. (2011-08-30). True Wealth: How and Why Millions of Americans Are Creating a Time-Rich,Ecologically Light,Small-Scale, High-Satisfaction Economy. Some of these changes include diversifying our allocation of time: Shifting time and effort out of the BAU economy and into other forms of “production”, like household work (e.g., making meals) and spending time with friends.

But resilience can be applied to many categories of our lives, including shelter, food, water, security, etc. and can be applied to multiple timelines from short-term resilience to survive disasters to long-term resilience. Just as people can choose different levels of insurance to address their own comfort in terms of resilience, so too are their multiple levels of resilience to consider.