Resilience 101: Lessons & Gifts from a Prickly Plant and an Arid Land

No human, no matter how privileged, grows up without experiencing difficulties. In response, we cry, we yell, we change what we can and get out of bed to face another day. According to new research in fields from psychology to sociology to immunology, a key character trait that predicts how well we’ll survive and thrive in the face of new challenges is resilience.

One dictionary defines resilience as either ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness’ or ‘the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.’ Another calls resilience the ‘ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.’ 

At Sunia K, learning about the hardiness of the prickly pear plant whose seeds are cold-pressed to yield our precious Sabrah Oil and the resilience of the people of Tunisia’s Zelfene region where we source our oil (and where Sunia K’s founder Sonia grew up), has led to four key insights that have helped us better weather our particular challenges. Here they are:

1. Accept what you can’t change and adapt.

Tunisia is famous for sparking the Jasmine Revolution or Arab Spring and achieving many desired reforms, but Tunisians near the Mediterranean have prospered far more than those in its interior. The people of land-locked Zelfene can’t turn their arid and semi-arid region into a temperate one. Instead, they learned to cultivate and find new uses for the prickly pear cacti that already love to grow there.

 

Similarly, the prickly pear plant can’t pick up its roots and search for more water; instead, it has evolved to sport a thick skin and needles to protect itself from predators and flourish in the hottest, driest conditions.

2. Look for the hidden gifts in the resources around you. Tunisians already fed the prickly pear pads to their sheep, ate its fruits, and transformed the fruit into delicious jam, molasses, and wine. When they discovered they could press the cactus fruit’s seeds to extract a powerful cosmetic oil now in demand around the world, they found a way to make their region more self-sufficient and prosperous.

3. Give yourself time to heal and grow. Faced with rising temperatures and soil erosion, the people of Zelfene have patiently cultivated new plantations of prickly pears throughout their region which have helped to prevent desertification, provided good jobs for women and men, and built their economy and local pride.

4. Continue to be generous. Like the prickly pear offering its anti-oxidant rich fruits and oil to us despite growing in soil with few nutrients and little water, we each have unique gifts that we must share with the world in order to be happy. Don’t hold back. Share your gifts. The world is waiting.

In one golden drop of Sabrah Oil, we can see the resilience of nature, a land and a people, conveying its distilled gifts to restore the resilience of our skin, hair and nails, helping us to feel relaxed and resilient enough to meet the daily challenges of our lives and thrive.

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