Finding resilience is a lifelong journey

ASU community explores grit from the perspectives of health and the arts, both through research and in the classroom

“Each of us face adversity in life. Resilience is the human capacity not only to ‘bounce back’ from life’s slings and arrows, but also to become stronger and more capable of facing the next challenge,” she said. “The connection with mindfulness is that we must be alert to the opportunity to learn and grow through the experience. We have much to learn from individuals and cultures that have faced adversity; thus resilience is not only an individual capacity, but also a societal one.”

Under Pipe’s leadership, the center focuses on deepening ASU’s culture of healthfulness, personal balance and resiliency among students and employees.

The research

Frank Infurna, an assistant professor of psychology at ASU, is interested in how people develop and change over time as a result of adversity.

“We’re trying to adjust this cultural narrative, in the U.S., of what it means to be resilient.”

The creatives

Navigating setbacks is especially relevant to artists, so this term, the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts offered a class called “Failure, Design and the Arts.”

“If you want to replace that voice that tells you you’re not good enough with something that will tell you you’re going to make it through no matter what, then what does it look like?” Workmon said.

The class projects are art-based, and students work in whatever medium they feel most comfortable — poetry, illustration, essays, video. For the project on the “inner voice of judgment,” a dance student did the same movements over and over to symbolize repetition.

“Part of fixed mind-set is talent, and growth mind-set is hard work — and in their fields, talent and hard work are equally valued.”

The final component of the class, which Workmon hopes to offer again in the spring, is a reflection. The students must do that project in a medium that makes them uncomfortable.

Lynne Nethken, an ASU mechanical engineering graduate student, talks through video chat with students from Prescott’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University about AZLoop. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

“I had to have a crazy level of determination and to struggle along this path for 10 years before I really figured it out and said, ‘I can do this,’ ” she said.

“I think my definition of resilience is if you fail or a hit a roadblock, how hard are you willing to work to get around it? If you have determination, nothing will stop you.”

Learn more

  • The Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience is hosting a “Mindfulness in the Park” event from 5:30–7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26, in Civic Space Park in downtown Phoenix. The event is free and open to the public. Find details here.
  • A free workshop on stress and resilience will be offered by Leadership and Workforce Development for faculty and staff from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4, on the Tempe campus. Find details here.



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Official Medium account of ASU. № 1 in innovation. Top 10 of all universities worldwide for U.S. patents awarded. Find more ASU news at