Using Purpose to Build Resilience in Teens

 In Life Direction Program


               -William Damon, Director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence

We all have our share of ups and downs – it’s part of being alive, part of being human. The older we get, though, the more tools we have for handling the hard times and difficult emotions. Without these tools, teenagers have a hard time learning how to build resilience against the stress and depression that are everywhere during the teen years of intense change and difficulty.

Fortunately, recent studies have brought a glimmer of hope to the younger generation. Researchers have discovered that having a sense of purpose, along with discovering passion and meaning in their lives, actually increases teen resilience. These teens are better able to recover when life knocks them down, a common occurrence in adolescence. An interesting discovery is that this increased resilience has nothing to do with the technology that most teens assume is keeping them distracted and entertained. In fact, technology may actually be the cause of their depression and stress.

On the other hand, discovering a life purpose contributes to self-esteem, well being and mental health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines resilience as the ability to withstand, adapt to, and recover from adversity and stress. It does not mean that teens do not feel sadness, hurt and difficulties, but instead, they bounce back much faster than their non-resilient peers. This is awesome news for a generation that is witnessing teen suicide, depression and mental illness skyrocketing with no end in sight.

The Changemaker Teens “Life Direction Program” was created to bring purpose, passion and meaning back into the lives of teenagers and young adults. Learn more about it here!

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