New book inspires people to take charge of their lives

True Resilience: Building a Life of Strength, Courage, and Meaning

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Dan Hirshberg
CHP Communications
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WORDEN, MT (January 5, 2015) – We’ve all had those times we declare, “This is the worst day of my life.” For some people, that day can turn into a week, months, or years. Having the ability to bounce back from a difficult life event comes with work, but in the end, can be truly satisfying.

In her new book, True Resilience: Building a Life of Strength, Courage, and Meaning (Cape House Books), Dr. Gail Wagnild, a lifelong resident of Montana and one of the nation’s leading researchers in the field of resilience, helps people cultivate personal characteristics and habits they can use to adapt to the flow of life—and yet never lose sight of who they are and their life purpose.

“Being resilient is strategic,” Dr. Wagnild said. “It’s a long-term process but, once people get the ball rolling, it’s so much easier for them to respond to both small and big setbacks in their lives. Resilience is a capacity that enables us to live with purpose, perseverance, self-reliance, equanimity, and authenticity.

“We are not always aware of our resilience but it is always there,” she added. “Sometimes it doesn’t reveal itself until we’re in the midst of adversity.”

The result of years of study and interviews, True Resilience, written in conversational language, is filled with inspirational stories, proven research, and questionnaires to help readers apply every point to their own situations.

The founder and owner of The Resilience Center in Montana, Dr. Wagnild is a clinically trained psychiatric nurse and social worker. She also writes from personal experience. As a young woman, she found herself simultaneously raising a child, navigating a divorce, helping her father through a painful death, working full time, enduring theft, and much more.

Her interest in resilience began some 25 years ago. Since then, she has interviewed and surveyed thousands of people about how they responded to life crises. Five years ago, she realized she had an enormous amount of material for a book on the subject, and for the past two years, worked diligently to complete the project.

“I found that my approach—and conclusions—were a lot different than those of many other researchers in the field,” Dr. Wagnild said. “When I started to study resilience and aging in the early to mid-1980s, most researchers were still focusing on problems, deficits, and weaknesses and how to solve, reduce, and compensate for them.

“Then I read a 1985 article by the late researcher Elizabeth Colerick that focused on stamina in later life,” Dr. Wagnild added. “I agreed with her that aging offers opportunities for limitless growth and learning. I decided it would be fascinating, and even illuminating, to identify the personal qualities that help us positively adapt as we age.”

While age may seem to be key, it’s only part of the equation. Young people face tough situations, too. Dr. Wagnild notes her interviewees over the years ranged in age from the early 20s to 100.

“Younger people tend to think that this is really ‘the worst day of my life,’” said Dr. Wagnild. “Older people are more resilient because they’ve learned how to have a balanced purpose in life. In my book, I show how younger people can learn from older people and see that life doesn’t end because of one setback or another.”

She shows readers of all ages what she discovered scientifically and personally—how to achieve a sense of purpose, perseverance, self-reliance, equanimity, and authenticity. Readers also will learn habits that will help them renew and refresh themselves so they stay strong, healthy, brave, and focused.

“It works because resilience isn’t a trait you do or do not possess,” Dr. Wagnild said. "It’s a way to live."

Another hallmark of Dr. Wagnild's research is her holistic approach. She does not rely solely on psychology or biology to explain resilience.

“I focus on the whole person,” she said. “People who are resilient rely on their beliefs and values to guide their choices. They realize what they can never compromise, no matter what. The path isn’t easy. But as resilience grows, so do strength of purpose, courage of your convictions, and a realization that your life is unique and significant.”

True Resilience: Building a Life of Strength, Courage, and Meaning is available now in paperback. Its ebook versions will appear on the market imminently.

Dr. Wagnild is available for interviews about:

  • The five personal qualities and four habits that help people build resilience;
  • Resilience as an essential part of healthy aging;
  • How young people can start building resilient lives early;
  • The importance of resilience in a fast-paced, high-stress world;
  • The role of belief in building a resilient life;
  • Getting in touch with one’s inner resilience after life setbacks, including loss, grief, unemployment, and more.

For more information about Dr. Wagnild, her new book, The Resilience Center, and her programs for students and employees, visit, or go to

About Cape House Books

Cape House Books, based in Allendale, New Jersey, publishes two imprints—memoirs and wisdom books. Its commitment is to produce elegantly written and designed books that explore how the forces that swirl around us—from family and culture to the environment and medicine—ultimately play out in the human psyche and heart. Memoirs are written by authors who have responded to these forces in healthy and innovative ways. Wisdom books are written by credentialed experts in a variety of fields for the purpose of helping readers live their best lives. For more information, visit

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