The Resilience Project

The Resilience Project Book Review by Isabel Aldiss

This last week has been one of the craziest I have seen in my lifetime. This time last week, I was talking to my daughter about a visit to Brisbane to see her and complete a task for my mother. Now I am talking to her hourly to keep her anxiety levels in check and to see how we can get her home to New Zealand.  I’m sure you have had your own version of this week and so, I wanted to share thoughts from a book I am currently reading which is helping keep me grounded through these challenging times. It’s “The Resilience Project – finding Happiness Through Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness” by Hugh van Cuylenburg. The central idea of “The Resilience Project” is the application of Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness. These are huge concepts when you start to investigate them and way beyond the scope of a single article. So, this short book review is to entice you to discover a book full of wisdom told through stories of the authors personal experiences.


This is a practice and is not the same as the childhood message of “BE grateful”. The application and practice of gratitude is the awareness of the seemingly inconsequential details of our daily lives which are in fact hugely important. A gratitude practice is giving thanks for the details of our days that are the threads of who we are and, when woven together, make the tapestry of our lives.

Gratitude can be the first hot drink of the morning. The child who welcomes our attention when we are exhausted. Gratitude trains the brain to find positive experiences every day. I call these the smallest Lego blocks of lives; they are the seeds of our flower garden. The ones easily overlooked and yet welcomed when watered and flourishing in the most unexpected of places.


Empathy is the first cousin of kindness and compassion and it can vanish during the challenging times. Empathy is more readily found when we remember that the person in front of us has probably had the craziest week of their life too, and they are (probably) experiencing uncertainty and fear.

In my yoga class, I am often told to stop trying not to feel pain and get comfortable with discomfort. Kindness and compassion start with giving ourselves permission to feel whatever it is we are feeling. It’s ok to be frightened, anxious and exhausted. If only for a moment, I encourage you to give yourself permission to be exactly where you are and feel what you feel, to notice what comes up in your heart.

When we listen to what our body is communicating to us it becomes easier to hear what those we love are communicating. When we listen to our inner selves, we become better skilled at identifying whether someone is asking for help or needing to be heard, deepening our connection with our neighbours, family and friends


Mindfulness is about putting gratitude and empathy together in the moment to moment awareness of our lives. Becoming aware of our thoughts and feelings without judgement. Mindfulness can be practised in yoga, in flow states of running, dancing, prayer or meditation. Mindfulness can be practised in any moment of our day. Mindfulness practise helps detox our minds, which can allow for better sleep, less agitation.  Seldom easy to do but hugely benefits attached to mindfulness

We can take the lead from nature, which does not know Covid-19. I note tui sucking the last of summer nectar from flowers. I catch a glimpse of a fish leaping out of the water. I notice the sun rising in a different place signalling that autumn is here. I notice the cacophony of crickets and cicadas going quiet in the morning. When we slow down our lives, we notice Mother Nature keeps getting on with her busyness.  When we commit to getting on with the Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness of our lives; being kind to each other and, most importantly, and kind to ourselves we discover ways which can enhance relationships, working and living. This book is something special you can do for yourself to get through these weeks ahead.

About the author

Isabel Aldiss is a Resolution Practitioner at Fair Way, who specialises in mediation and Preparation for Mediation.

She is an accredited Family Dispute Resolution provider through AMINZ . Isabel is also an accredited counsellor with the New Zealand Association of Counsellors.

If you would like to get in touch with Isabel, please contact her by email at