Solar Eclipse April 8, 2024

Lessons in Resilience from a Solar Eclipse

There’s something kind of magical about knowing exactly when the moon will sneak in front of the sun and cast a brief shadow over the day.

I remember an eclipse when I was in middle school that I witnessed through a pinhole on a sheet of paper. While I didn’t see the eclipse directly because I enjoy having healthy retinas, seeing the shadows interplay on the back of my math homework was still pretty amazing. I knew something big was happening in the sky.

Eclipses are totally predictable but we still get caught off guard by the randomness of celestial bodies lining up perfectly.

Stress is a lot like an eclipse.

We know it’s out there and we’ll experience it, whether we’re looking for it or not. But we have a hard time letting stress just be in our lives and observe it for what it is.

We work hard to find ways to get it to go away, to not feel it or experience it, or — on the opposite end of the spectrum — to prepare for every possibility so as to not be caught off guard and feel the stress of being out of control.

Big work presentation next week? Ready for it.

That yearly family get-together that’s equal parts fun and dysfunctional? As ready as anyone can be.

We see these kinds of stressors coming from a mile away and try to gear up mentally.

But what about the random stuff?

Flat tires, a sudden work crisis, those out-of-the-blue calls from the school principal, the brand new air conditioner that dies in July?

We can spot the big stressors ahead of time just like astronomers predict eclipses, and we’re happy to pull out our best instruments to measure it.

But we have to be just as diligent about being resilient with the small stuff.

In the same way the moon puts itself between you and the sun in an eclipse, stress places itself between you and what you want.

Every. Single. Time.

You can fight it if you want, if you think you can move the moon at will (maybe you could if it was made out of cheese).

Or you can find ways to take a breath and simply notice what’s happening around you, appreciate life for what it is, and wait for that stressor to pass out of your perspective, as it often does.

So, what do we do when life throws us a curveball?

The goal here is to develop psychological flexibility. This isn’t about being ready for a monumental event or crash; it’s more about being able to bend, twist, and keep your life going in spite of what gets hurled at you, big or small.

Every time you bend and twist, you get stronger and more pliable. Like Neo dodging a bullet in The Matrix, it takes bigger and bigger things to knock you down.

Here are a few broad ideas to get you started:

1. Stay Present
An eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime event (theoretically; I’ve personally seen two, but whatever). You wouldn’t spend that moment scrolling through your phone, right? Of course not! Staying present, fully immersing yourself in right now, can help you appreciate what you do have, even during stressful times.

2. Embrace Your Experiences
Every experience, good or bad, brings with it a lesson. Much like how we marvel at an eclipse, understanding that its beauty is in the fact that it won’t last long, embracing your experiences without judgment can help you develop resilience. Acknowledge your feelings, don’t beat yourself up for having a human response, and move forward.

3. Make Your Values Your Compass
Your values are your North Star, guiding you through your darkest nights and your brightest days. Identifying what truly matters to you—whether it’s family, health, or career—can provide a sense of direction and purpose, especially during times of stress. Now you know what matters to you, and what doesn’t. Let those values guide your choices and decisions.

4. Take Committed Action
Small, consistent actions aligned with your values can lead to significant changes. Whether it’s prioritizing family dinners, making time for a run or walk, or pursuing the first steps of a passion project, these actions take you closer to where you want to be. Stress will feel less disempowering when you are aligning your behaviors with your deepest values.

5. Develop a Growth Mindset
If you let them, your challenges can be an episode of “Watch Me Grow.” Instead of looking at challenges as forces always trying to drag you down, or an indictment of your propensity to fail, learn to embrace the mindset that says, “What can I learn from this?” or “What other opportunities might this lead to?”

View each obstacle as an opportunity to learn something you didn’t know before, and develop a stronger, more resilient version of yourself.

Just like those moments when we use pinhole cameras or special glasses to watch an eclipse, we can observe from a distance and manage our stress.

By staying present, embracing our experiences, aligning our actions with our values, and cultivating a growth mindset, we build resilience—not just to withstand stress, but to thrive right in the middle of it.

Originally posted on