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cropped-graphic-e1423682891979.jpgVolume 12, Number 11

The Latin origin of the term “resilience” is “re-“ (back, again) and “salire” (to jump, leap). Hence, the term means to re-bound, or to jump again.

With respect to health, and particularly to health behavior, the prefix “re-“ may be the most important one in the English language (it is the 2nd most commonly used prefix). Behaviors that enhance wellness, prevent disease, or contribute to the management of chronic health problems cannot be one-time events. Eating one healthy meal, exercising one time, or getting one good night of sleep doesn’t work. Benefits come from practicing these behaviors time and again.

Habits are behaviors that occur re-peatedly when cued. But maintaining healthy habits can be a challenge in the face of many cues or opportunities for unhealthy behavior. Therefore, an essential ingredient in maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to be re-silient, that is to be re-liable with the behavior in spite of challenges, to be re-sourceful when the ingredients for healthy behavior may not be readily available, and to re-adjust when changes or adaptations to one’s routine are necessary.

The logo for e-quilibrium is a gyroscope. Although one may associate a child’s toy with the term gyroscope, the definition of a gyroscope according to Merriam-Webster is as follows: “a wheel or disk mounted to spin rapidly about an axis and also free to rotate about one or both of two axes perpendicular to each other and to the axis of spin so that a rotation of one of the two mutually perpendicular axes results from application of torque to the other when the wheel is spinning and so that the entire apparatus offers considerable opposition depending on the angular momentum to any torque that would change the direction of the axis of spin.” This is a complex instrument used to maintain equilibrium and direction. Among other applications, gyroscopes are used in aircraft, ships, and guidance systems.

A gyroscope is a useful symbol for human behavior, and particularly for health behavior. Maintaining healthy habits requires momentum (spin at high speed), necessary force in the face of non-healthy cues (torque), and the maintenance of orientation to goals (direction). Losing speed/momentum causes the gyroscope to wobble, just as losing momentum with a health behavior can result in a lapse or cessation of that health behavior. The momentum of well-established habits provide the stability to be re-silient in the face of challenges/obstacles.


Paul J. Hershberger, Ph.D.

… is a clinical health psychologist. He is Professor of Family Medicine and Director of Behavioral Science for the Family Medicine Residency Program, Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. His clinical practice includes psychotherapy, consultation, and coaching.




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