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Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  3,094 ratings  ·  328 reviews
You cannot bounce back from hardship. You can only move through it. There is a path through pain to wisdom, through suffering to strength, and through fear to courage if we have the virtue of resilience.

In 2012, Eric Greitens unexpectedly heard from a former SEAL comrade, a brother-in-arms he hadn't seen in a decade. Zach Walker had been one of the toughest of the tough. B
Audio CD, 9 pages
Published March 10th 2015 by Macmillan Audio
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  3,094 ratings  ·  328 reviews

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Andrea James
Wow this book has so many five star reviews! I can see its appeal but the "man up and serve your duty. HOOOAH" military thinking combined with Greek philosophy wasn't what I was looking for. I picked up this book because I wanted to a deeper understanding of resilience. As it turns out I already have the type of resilience that the author describes; the type that allows one to grit, serve and survive.

Yes, through my depression I can prise myself out of bed, prepare a training session and delive
Cindy Rollins
Aug 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, suffering
In a different time, a different place this would not be a 5 star book but for our culture and our time it is a reminder of virtues and values we have almost lost.

It takes the form of a series of letters from one former SEAL to another one suffering from PTSD.

I loved all the classical references.

This book would be a perfect graduation gift for a boy or a girl and would be a great book for a high school junior or senior's reading list.
Marcus Solberg
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book by Navy Seal and PhD Eric Greitens, who also wrote "The Heart and the Fist" - another recommended read - and who has been named one of the most influential leaders in America.

This book is packed with practical wisdom about how to best live one's life to ones fullest potential. Greitens is obviously inspired by Marcus Aurelius' "Letters from a Stoic", and his books takes on a similar shape with the chapters consisting of a series of letters Greitens wrote to a navy seal friend of h
May 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Before you read another word of this, go buy this book, bring it into your home and read it, or maybe read it in the bookstore, or read it on your tablet, or have someone read it to you. Just read it. Then sit quietly for a moment, and read it again (OK, I haven't quite done this part yet, but I'm bound to do it at least once every year). I swear there is something of note, a parable, a lesson, an action to do, on every page of this book.

This book has entered into my list of favorite books. Ther
Lindsay Nixon
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is THE BEST “self-help” book I’ve ever read. One of the best books I’ve ever read of all time.

Not all of the information or suggestions were new to me, but the author has a way of putting them together AND he gives plenty of examples to demonstrate concepts or how to put things into action 💯
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
The format of the book follows a series of correspondence between two Navy Seals, back in the civilian world. One is failing to cope, the other is trying to help. The author's letters are filled with references to philosophy, poetry, and basic self-help principles. The core of the book revolves around the title as it's concept.... i.e. the need for resilience!!

I believe that the suggestions contained in the book could be extremely helpful for returning soldiers trying to re-integrate into civili
Kevin Moore
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best book I've read all year, and certainly one of the best I've read in the last few. This book offers a lot of wisdom for someone looking to engage life's challenges and grow along the way. Greitens applies the principles he learned with the SEALS and timeless wisdom from Socrates to Seneca to Jesus to Nietzsche to the issues of enduring hardship, using pain constructively, becoming reflective, and practicing virtue in order to become what he calls the "resilient" person. This is r ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book. I would give it five stars but for the pervasive "even men can read books and have feelings too" theme. I don't fault the author for weaving that into his otherwise really well-written book since his target seems to be guys who believe being manly involves not reading or acknowledging emotions beyond anger but rather punching walls and kicking dogs. For me, not being that way at all, that theme distracted and annoyed me. Other than that I found the book well-written and deeply th ...more
Feb 21, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, d-n-f
I received this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.

It's very unusual for me to abandon a book unfinished. Since I've decided to put this book on the back shelf for an undetermined amount of time, I feel like I should explain why.

The section that I can't get past is as follows:

Here's where this gets tough. Imagine that a friend tells us, "I feel depressed every morning."

Society has taught us that we're supposed to say, "I'm sorry you feel that way." And that's a fine thing to say. Bu
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self
Given the disproportionate number of 5 star ratings for this book, I was prepared to be greatly disappointed.

The original material comes from a series of letters the author wrote to his friend but in book form they read more like essays trying to imitate letters. I found the mix of styles distracting. The content is too well polished for the 'letters to a friend' motif. For this to work for me as a collection of letters I would have liked to read more of the friend's side of the conversation to
My favorite quote from this book:
"We all need something to struggle against and to struggle for. The aim in life is not to avoid struggles but to have the right ones; not to avoid worry, but to care about the right things; not to live without fear, but to confront worthy fears with force and passion."

Eric Greitens is a serious warrior and a serious philosopher. He was a boxer, a Navy SEAL, worked with refugees in war-torn countries, and now runs an organization that helps military veterans retur
Literary Chic
One of my coworkers is a retired Marine turned lawyer. He requested that I read this book. He thoroughly enjoyed reading the author and Navy SEAL's take on being resilient to adversities.

From my perspective, it was just another self help book. I don't really care for them. I tend to get more out of an anecdote or history than I do from a philosophical soliloquy. That's not a jibe at the author as he sounds like an amazing individual and a clearly a great patriot. I just don't care for the book's
Carol Storm
Nov 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My dear Wormwood,

As a young Tempter, let loose out of Hell, you will find very quickly that books written in letter format almost never work out. This book is supposed to be tough, practical advice from one veteran Navy SEAL to another about dealing with PTSD, readjusting to civilian life, and becoming a better man. Unfortunately, it reads like a very, very bad college humanities course as it might be taught by your high school gym teacher after a six pack or two. Definitely required reading in
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Letter 1: Your Frontline – 1
Letter 2: Why Resilience? – 8
Letter 3: What is Resilience – 19
Letter 4: Beginning – 32
Letter 5: Happiness – 49
Letter 6: Models – 66
Letter 7: Identity – 79
Letter 8: Habits – 95
Letter 9: Responsibility – 106
Letter 10: Vocation – 115
Letter 11: Philosophy – 129
Letter 12: Practice – 147
Letter 13: Pain – 157
Letter 14: Mastering Pain – 168
Letter 15: Reflection – 192
Letter 16: Friends – 208
Letter 17: Mentors – 220
Letter 18: Teams – 238
Letter 19: Leadership – 244
Letter 20: Fr
Nathan Albright
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: challenge
When I first started reading this book, I thought it would be the sort of book that would provide a look at resilience, at overcoming difficulty, and it did, in a manner of speaking. This is a book where the structure of the book, as artificial and contrived as it is, is of the utmost importance. The author is a retired Navy SEAL who finds great purpose in encouraging other veterans, and this book is written as a series of letters about various topics to a colleague of his who had left the servi ...more
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
A few thoughts on this book by our current governor:

1) If this is helpful to people with PTSD, then power to everyone involved. Or, you know, resilience to everyone involved. I'm not a psychiatrist, so I have nothing to say about its usefulness there.
2) If this is limited to being a work on what Greitens thinks people with PTSD need to hear, then see 1). If, however, this is some kind of statement of life principles for, well "living a better life" overall, on the other hand, I have some issues.
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Extraordinary is right.
This guy is a Renaissance Man- warrior, philosopher, humanitarian, and hopeful statesman.
Undoubtedly a personality to watch for in the future.
Timothy Tenbrink
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Challenging read because of the format but tons of wisdom and practical life challenges.
Keenan Burke-Pitts
Great read! I’ve read it twice now and anticipate I will revisit more than once in my remaining time here. Timeless wisdom that has withstood the ages. This book encapsulates what good philosophy is in my opinion: pragmatic perspective about why and how to live a flourishing life full of well-being. If I ever meet the author I owe him some combination of a firm handshake, a hug, a beer, a bow for his support and compassion through hard times. I find it interesting that more often than not when y ...more
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am commenting on the written book---This is a Terrific and Noble Book---given in Philosophic Discourse fashion--He gives power-packed advice from History to his Seal buddy Walker
Some of my favorite take-backs were Edith Hamilton, Aristotle, Plato, Homer, and Seneca--
all of us have faced pain, suffering, grief, and loss--we have a history of Historic Writers and Poets who have left wise advice throughout history on how to push through these obstacles.
My favorite quote from the book is: "Start w
David  Schroeder
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
This is perhaps one of the most important books to our development as human begins. I love the style Greitens utilizes as a friend sharing wisdom with another friend. After all, we as frail people needs good friends and mentors to encourage us along the way. For a long time, I looked at Eric Greitens as someone who is too good to be true. Athlete. Duke graduate. Rhodes scholar. Humanitarian. Navy SEAL. Founder of a non-profit supporting veterans. Governor of the state of Missouri. 43 years old. ...more
Dorothy Chen
Oct 31, 2016 rated it liked it
I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants a no-nonsense/no excuse approach to taking control of what can be in controlled in their lives. I've read and re-read this book, and personally, many of the lessons in this book were exactly what I needed to hear. I had many disjointed thoughts on how to be more resilient and muddled plans conjured from reflections on previous failures- this book helped immensely in uncovering areas I could improve on that I was either blind to, or perhaps too reluctan ...more
Dec 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I mostly listened to this book while I was working on some mindless activities. I found that whenever I actually read parts of the book, I enjoyed it a lot more. Greitens does his own reading for the audiobook and I didn't like his reading style. He would chuckle through parts of it, sometimes stifle a yarn, and often would end phrases or sentences with a rising inflection making it sound more like a question. It took me about half the book to get past that to where I could enjoy the content.

Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Starting this book I had no idea that Eric Greitens is actively involved in politics as I only start looking for information regarding the author once the book is done reading. I have to admit that the person that I have imagined as going along with the book and the one that I saw being displayed as a candidate for governor of Missouri are quite different, however that is not influencing my opinion about his past writings, including this one.

The book is structured as letters written by the autho
Kathie H
Aug 03, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Awful. A book by a man for men. It's like the world exists only for men; women are shadows with no worth or contribution. Just an outright slog. NOTE: I knew nothing of this writer before picking up the book; I didn't even read his bio on the dust jacket. After finishing the book (I want those hours of my life back), I discovered he is a right-wing anti-choice rabble-rouser masquerading as an intellectual because he's read Greek philosophy. He's a hack. He gives psychological advice (he's not qu ...more
Sandra Zaid
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everything in this epistolar book worked for me. Mostly, the credibility of the author. I made a notebook to hand write so many, many great quotes in hopes that they will shape my brain into a more resilient one. I will not give a five star rating only because the author's tone was a little too preachy.

Greitens inspires the reader to take meaningful and doable action. Yes, it is a self help book but is not loaded with cacophony or noise. These thoughts on philosophy comes from a serviceman and I
May 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book about surviving and thriving in life. What made this book so special to me besides the writing style was the honesty behind every word. The writer was not shy in addressing the paradoxes of life and after addressing the tragedies of these situations in a realistic fashion, brought the reader up to a more empowered position than before. Both bad and good were addressed and not dramatically. Loved it. It's a story as much as a self-improvement book.
Rachel Bayles
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: professional
These are the things that wise older brother we could all use would tell us. As good a guide to life as you are likely to find.
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Mr. Greitens needs to step off his pedestal of self-importance. Book is unorganized and boring. Author thinks too highly of himself.
Scott Bampton
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I brilliant set of letters written by someone with deep knowledge and understanding of what it means to be resilient every day. Exciting, motivating and engaging and hard to put down
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Eric Greitens was an Angier B. Duke Scholar, Truman Scholar, Rhodes Scholar, Navy SEAL, White House Fellow, champion boxer and sub-3 hour marathon runner. He is currently the founder/Chairman of the Center for Citizen Leadership in St. Louis, MO.

Eric's book of award-winning photographs and essays, Strength and Compassion , grew from his humanitarian work. His doctoral thesis, Children First, in

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“The first step to building resilience is to take responsibility for who you are and for your life. If you’re not willing to do that, stop wasting your time reading this letter. The essence of responsibility is the acceptance of the consequences—good and bad—of your actions.” 17 likes
“I begin with humility, I act with humility, I end with humility. Humility leads to clarity. Humility leads to an open mind and a forgiving heart. With an open mind and a forgiving heart, I see every person as superior to me in some way; with every person as my teacher, I grow in wisdom. As I grow in wisdom, humility becomes ever more my guide. I begin with humility, I act with humility, I end with humility.” 15 likes
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