Jason Bourne is an amazing character, isn’t he? Matt Damon demonstrates the boyish good looks, the muscular body, the martial arts and the technological skills in an enchanting way. In the face of explosions, riots, betrayal, gunshots, traffic jams and injuries he still manages to find a way to outsmart his adversaries and not just survive but come out on top.
His grit in the face of adversity is what makes us cheer for him. We love the way he improvises. He draws on his skills and then adapts them to what’s in front of him so he can discover who he really is and come to terms with his past and we empathise with him for that.
Grit doesn’t just mean a hardness or stubbornness, rather having grit means being adaptable to a constantly changing environment. Adaptability isn’t just Jason Bourne’s super power, it has been the key to the survival of all organisms since the dawn of time. The most adaptable survived and evolved while the more fragile died out.
When you are adaptable, you are more than resilient; you can face challenges and not only survive them but actually get stronger for having faced them. This is critical to unleashing our human potential because life doesn’t get easier; we get better.
On a cellular level, adaptability is key to your own well-being and it is physiologically measurable. We can measure the balance of your autonomic nervous system and the more adaptability it shows, the healthier you are.
Mentally, this balance allows you to dance through the chaos of life and it can be measured and improved through conscious practice. Children with better adaptability scores have a superior ability to shift and sustain attention and to regulate emotion which are key features of life long learning.
In a very interesting study published in the American Journal of Surgery, newborn babies who had lower adaptability scores had a higher risk of infection and these scores were more accurate than traditional measures like heart rate or temperature. Lower levels of adaptability in babies and children are characteristic of distress, asphyxiation, SIDS and even ear infections.
Low levels of adaptability are linked to poor immune function, poor fitness levels, burnout in athletes, anxiety, depression, delayed healing and susceptibility to disease.
What research is showing is that the ageing process is a result of a decreasing ability of your mind and body to be adaptable. Bruce Friedman, PhD, Director of the Mind and Body Lab at Virginia Tech, has published highly-cited research making this point strongly. “In sum, healthy physiology is often expressed in high levels of adaptive variability.”
How do you become more resilient to adapt like Jason Bourne?
Get checked and adjusted by a chiropractor. For over a hundred years people have been choosing chiropractic as a lifestyle beyond pain relief, because they just feel better. Now research has discovered that chiropractic adjustments improve your nervous system balance and make you more adaptable physically, mentally and metabolically. Getting checked and corrected by an ABC™ Chiropractor will also improve your posture and make your structure more adaptable to life’s daily stressors.
Practice mindfulness. Life can be busy and so can our minds. The clutter of thoughts that goes through our minds everyday can be overwhelming. When your mind is a hodgepodge of future issues or past event we tend to be less creative and resourceful. When we are more focused on the present moment we can access more of our mental and emotional ability to adapt to challenges. Focusing on your breath is a great way to become more present. With it you can cultivate new mental habits of balance and ease.
Move yourself. Your amazing mind-body has a built in process for decreasing stress and improving resourcefulness. Movement of your body fires off signals to the brain that can short circuit the stress and anxiety pathways and help you to be calmer and more focused. The more you move your body, the more we fire off these signals the more the brain learns to be present and reduce feelings of stress even when you aren’t moving. Movement also helps the tissues of your body like your heart, arteries, lungs, bones, joints and muscles to be more resilient. High intensity movement, moderate movement and strength based movements are all vital to exercising your mind-body’s ability to adapt.
Eat real food. Modern industrialised food production has reduced food quality and stripped it of much of the nutrition your mind-body requires. With fewer nutrients and more preservatives, additives, colourants, sugars and franken-fats, it’s no wonder your mind-body might not be at its best. The more your mind-body has to adapt to those stressors the less it can adapt to challenging phone calls, sedentary living, falls and life’s other inevitable challenges. Be kind to yourself and give yourself high-quality foods that are nutrient-rich.
Rest and restore. With the invention of the electric lightbulb we have extended ‘productive daylight hours’ and reduced restorative hours in everyday. With that shift in balance we burn the candle at both ends more and more and pay the price. Prioritising sleep as a productive activity is a necessity when we are ever more challenged in our waking hours. Sleep as much as you need to in order to wake up refreshed without getting fired or divorced.
Get into nature. The sights, smells, sounds and textures of nature sooth our mind-body, encouraging balance. In urban and suburban living we have increasing levels of harsh, loud, bright, straight, flat and aggravating sensory experiences that push our mind-body into defence mode and erode our resilience. Even small doses of nature like a picture of a forest can move the needle the other way. Going barefoot on grass, trail or sand is a great way to reconnect with natural sensory inputs.
We are all on the same journey as Jason, trying to discover who we are in one way or another. Choose chiropractic as part of your vitalistic lifestyle and live your bigger life.