The Bounce Back Book

The Bounce Back Book

How to Thrive in the Face of Adversity, Setbacks, and Losses

Karen Salmansohn

Summary in 100 words or less

The first step to bouncing back from bad times is to accept and embrace the imperfection of life. Then, get clear with your ultimate goals (identity, financial security, meaning work) but be flexible with changes. Along the journey of recovery and growth, adopt positive thinking and strengthen mental toughness so we’re prepared for any curve ball life threw at us.


My Highlights

In life, you always have a choice—be weak or be strong. If you want to survive life’s many challenges, you must put in the conscious effort and discipline to be a strong person. It’s essential you create a fiery will from within—harness that power of decisiveness—and choose to be your strongest self.

Who you truly are as a person is best revealed by who you are during times of conflict and crisis.

What is “growing”? Putting in the emotional effort to improve who you are as a person—facing your core pain—and working to stretch yourself to become your strongest, wisest, highest-level self.

Just as physical wounds heal at different rates in different people, so do emotional wounds. Everyone has different needs and speeds.

If you want to heal rightly from a crisis, be ready to tolerate more pain than you thought you could ever feel. If you learn to sit with, feel, and tolerate this core pain, it will get smaller and smaller, until it ultimately disappears.

Pain is part of life. By accepting it, its intensity is reduced. Do not resist it. Resistance to pain brings tension and anxiety, anxiety leads to fear. Fear of pain is worse than pain itself. This pain will pass.

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we create our world. —Buddha

Bouncing back up from bad times depends on “the stories” you tell yourself. Pessimists, who generally don’t bounce back easily from bad times, see setbacks as permanent, pervasive, and personal. Optimistic people, in contrast, tell themselves that setbacks are temporary, confined to that one situation, and are usually about the other person, not a character defect in themselves.

Ask better questions. If you ask depressing questions, you will 100% get depressing answers.

Be a student, not a victim. Find the meaning in the bad and learn lessons from life.

During bad times, if you feel embarrassed by what others are thinking about you, fear not. Most people aren’t thinking about all the things wrong in your world. They’re too caught up with all the things wrong in their own worlds. Don’t focus on what others are thinking. Trust your instincts. Do only what your gut tells you is right for you.

Exercise increases the release of endorphins and the mood-enhancing neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, the same chemicals that antidepressants manipulate to make you feel better.

Change is good, if you insist on making change be good. Don’t fight it. Embrace it. Go with the flow of your change by considering flowing in a whole new direction. Brainstorm crazy new ideas that are now newly possible.

Thinking happy thoughts literally creates a positive chemical change in the brain—which stimulates both positive physical and psychological benefits.

The number-one contributor to well-being is not money, good look, or popularity! The biggest life goodie is autonomy, defined as “the feeling that your life—its activities and habits—are self-chosen and self-endorsed.”

When someone shares a good laugh with you, they are not only spreading joy but lowering blood pressure, boosting the immune system, improving brain functioning, lowering the risk of heart disease, as well as reducing depression, anger, anxiety, and stress.

When you change your environment, you change your thinking energy—and are more apt to see new solutions. You also remove potentially depressing visual triggers that might be keeping you stuck in a negative place.

Successful people are not people who never fail. They’re people who know how to fail really, really well. If they fall on their faces, they use that leverage to push themselves up higher.

Stormy times give us the opportunity to grow into Mightier Human Beings, provided we focus on the big picture rather than on our difficulties. —Aristotle

Anger is a powerful emotion that manifests itself in lots of sneaky ways. It tricks you into feeling empowered. Rage feels strong. Grief, loss, and failure feel weak.

When you’re in full distress mode, you lose your ability to think from either your neocortex or your limbic system. As a result, you can’t express feelings or interpret events clearly, so you revert to your “reptile brain” seeking fight, flight, or freeze.

Meditation can work like medication to calm you.

There are three paths to happiness"

  1. The pleasant life, is basic moment-to-moment contentment
  2. The good life, comes through “engagement”, and
  3. A meaningful life, serving some larger end using personal strengths

What you get in life all depends on how you view yourself—your identity—and what you’re capable of.

When tough times sweep in and turn your life upside down, see change as a new chance to evolve—into a better job, a better relationship, etc. The trick? Remain clear in your ultimate goals (happiness, monetary security, health, and fulfillment.) But be flexible about who and what can bring you the things.

More book notes

The Champion’s Mind
Smarter Faster Better
Brain Rules
59 Seconds
10-Minute Toughness

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