Winner of the 2014 Books for a Better Life Award
New! Read the Book Review of Bouncing Back, Greater Good Science Center, U.C. Berkeley
(Greater Good Science Center Favorite Books of 2013, Honorable Mention)
Linda Graham talks about Bouncing Back
Resilience is our innate capacity to face and handle life’s challenges, whether everyday disappointments or extraordinary disasters. Bouncing Back integrates brain science, relational psychology and mindfulness practices to help you change for the better old patterns of coping encoded in your neural circuitry and to develop new ways to respond to pressures and tragedies quickly, adaptively, and effectively.
Praise for Bouncing Back
“I read one page of Bouncing Back and pulled out my highlighter. The book is such an easy, natural, graceful bridge between science and applications. A real gift.”
- Linda Seagraves, Leadership Development and Wellness consultant
“In Bouncing Back, Linda Graham offers a beautiful and wise understanding of neuroscience combined with immensely practical tools for healthy living and genuine well-being.”
— Jack Kornfield, PhD, author of A Path with Heart
“We all know what it’s like to feel stuck. Grounded in solid neuroscience and relational psychology, Bouncing Back is the perfect guidebook to help us not only get through hard times but develop the capacity for thriving in their midst. With extraordinary clarity, empathy, and depth, Linda Graham shows us how to navigate through life’s challenges with confidence, trust, and the feeling of the wind in our sails. Highly recommended.”
— James Baraz, coauthor of Awakening Joy
“We each have the capacity to meet the most challenging life circumstances with deep intelligence and a courageous, open heart. Yet when our resilience is diminished, we suffer. In her pioneering new book, Linda Graham explores the psychological, relational, and neurological dynamics of resilience and offers a rich array of meditations and attentional practices that can help us navigate everything from daily stressors to deep trauma. Written with great lucidity and compassion, this book helps us cultivate a heart that is ready for anything.”
— Tara Brach, PhD, author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge
“Astoundingly brilliant! I’ve never read a book so packed with information and wisdom and so engagingly, imaginatively, and charmingly written. Every page is a pleasure and a delight to read. This is a must-read book for therapists, teachers, and everyone else (which means all of us) who are interested in how we bounce back amid life’s many challenges.”
— Sylvia Boorstein, PhD, author of It’s Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness
“Linda Graham’s Bouncing Back gives us what we most need to navigate through our rich, complex, and often challenging world: a fundamental understanding of how our brains work, a deep dive into the flexibility and changeability of the brain, and practical tools for meeting life’s most difficult challenges. Whether you’re currently dealing with trauma or in a joyful and unencumbered period of your life, this book will deepen your self-understanding as it moves your heart.”
— Rick Foster, coauthor of How We Choose to Be Happy and Happiness and Health
“Linda Graham has written the ultimate handbook for dealing with life’s inevitable bumps, challenges, and, yes, even traumas. It is both practical and inspiring: Graham draws equally on modern science — neuroscience, psychology, and sociology — and contemplative philosophy to create a must-have resource for all those looking to make a full comeback.”
— Christine Carter, PhD, author of Raising Happiness
“I highly recommend this intelligent and very readable book by Linda Graham. More than informative, it is a heartfelt conversation with a wise and compassionate friend — and we can all use more of those.”
— Louis Cozolino, PhD, professor of psychology at Pepperdine University and author of The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy
“Bouncing Back offers the rigor of science, the beauty of art, and the wisdom of deep reflection and contemplation. In this illuminating work, Linda Graham has given us a treasure that has the potential to transform our individual and collective lives.”
— Shauna L. Shapiro, PhD, assistant professor of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University and coauthor of The Art and Science of Mindfulness
“A Japanese proverb tells us that ‘the bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists,’ for when the monsoon strikes the oak breaks, while the bamboo bends but quickly recovers. In clear, accessible language, Linda Graham integrates insights from modern scientific psychology, ancient wisdom traditions, and neurobiology to show readers how to become more like bamboo. Filled with inspirational quotes, step-by-step exercises, and wisdom drawn from years of psychotherapeutic practice, this book can help anyone recover from sorrow and disappointment to live a richer, happier, more fulfilling life.”
— Ronald D. Siegel, PsyD, assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and author of The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems
“Linda Graham shines clear light on one of the most vital skills we can develop — resilience — and takes the mystery out of how to get there. She offers beautiful, practical guidance on the underpinnings of ‘bouncing back’ and on how to rewire your brain’s circuitry to increase your resilience. She includes real-life, relatable examples from her experience as a first-class psychotherapist and veteran mindfulness practitioner, as well as insights and road-tested practices you’ll want to return to again and again.”
— Marsha Lucas, PhD, author of Rewire Your Brain for Love: Creating Vibrant Relationships Using the Science of Mindfulness
“Useful in a wide variety of contexts, Bouncing Back brings much-needed science to the subject of resilience via a wisdom-packed offering of simple yet effective insights and practices for growing through life’s inevitable challenges.”
— Elisha Goldstein, PhD, author of The Now Effect and coauthor of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook
“This book presents the neuroscience of self-healing in ways that make it totally accessible and applicable to our daily life concerns. Linda Graham shows us how to upgrade our old wiring to fit the new code of mental and spiritual health. I was personally touched by how encouraging her works and practices are.”
— David Richo, PhD, author of How to Be an Adult in Love
“Linda Graham has written a remarkably clear, extraordinarily useful, and, yes, inspiring book. She brilliantly integrates cutting-edge neuroscience and the best of contemporary psychotherapy with the wisdom and practices of Buddhism. The result is both a sophisticated perspective on development and change and a practical program for healing and strengthening the psyche through exercises imaginatively designed to rewire the brain.”
— David Wallin, PhD, author of Attachment in Psychotherapy
“Linda Graham provides a masterful integration of novel research findings in neuroscience and psychology with deep clinical insight into optimal human functioning. A joy to read and full of easy-to-follow exercises, this book offers a deceptively simple yet rich and complex road map for building and maintaining emotional resilience.”
— Kristin Neff, PhD, associate professor of human development and culture at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Self-Compassion
“Having researched and cocreated a resilience training program for NASA, I can validate the breadth and power of Bouncing Back. Linda Graham has integrated the latest findings in neuroscience and emotionally focused therapies, along with perennial mindfulness practices, to provide us with a first-rate book on becoming more resilient. It may be premature to call a book a classic before it has hit the stands, but Bouncing Back has everything it takes: it is wise, helpful, compassionate, practical, and well researched.
— Daniel Ellenberg, PhD, leadership coach, psychotherapist, and seminar leader
“Filled with practical and powerful exercises that not only will deepen your capacity to deal with life’s challenges but will lead to lasting change, Bouncing Back is a comprehensive and caring road map to a life of flourishing.”
— Ron Frederick, PhD, author of Living Like You Mean It
“Wherever I go, and with all the populations I serve, I’ve discovered that nourishing resilience to counteract the stresses and strains of daily life is our number one priority. I’m therefore grateful to Linda Graham for weaving together this incredible tapestry of time-tested insights and exercises, which are vitally important for us to assimilate into our daily lives. Bouncing Back is a resource guide I will cherish and look forward to passing on to all my students, clients, and teachers-in-training.”
— Richard Miller, PhD, clinical psychologist and president of the Integrative Restoration Institute
“A wealth of neuroscience research over the past ten years has told us much about how the brain works and what change really means. Linda Graham’s Bouncing Back is the book we’ve all been waiting for that translates that knowledge into compassionate, down-to-earth language that inspires confidence and hope. Rather than rote skills for coping, she provides a brain-based understanding of how we became who we are and how we can use our brains to become who we want to be. With humor, warmth, and wisdom, she conveys how to use mindfulness practices to increase our tolerance for the ups and downs of human life.”
— Janina Fisher, PhD, coauthor of the forthcoming The Body as Resource
“Bouncing Back reaches for and delivers more than a strategy for dealing with hard times. Its many practices are sure to be beneficial on a daily basis and can expand anyone’s capacity to navigate the twists and turns that life inevitably presents us with. Linda Graham has written a very positive book that supports and encourages everyone to engage in life consciously, with an open heart and an open mind. I highly recommend Bouncing Back.”
— Peter Baumann, author of Ego and founder of the Baumann Foundation
“One of the most exciting discoveries of the age we are living in is the growing understanding that we can each consciously engage in practices, sometimes involving only shifts in our attention and intention, that directly influence the function and structure of our brains and bodies. Even better, we not only can do this for ourselves but can connect with others in ways that support resilience in our families, communities, and society. Bouncing Back is a heartfelt and comprehensive guide for how to use your mind to change your brain and, in the process, experience an amazing upward spiral of deep well-being.”
— Cassandra Vieten, PhD, executive director of research at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, and coauthor of Living Deeply and author of Mindful Motherhood
Selections from Bouncing Back
From the foreword by Rick Hanson, author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom:
Life has many enjoyable, even wonderful moments. Of course, as we all know, it contains other kinds of moments as well: times that are stressful, upsetting, depleting, tiring, even devastating and traumatic – or simply dull and dreary. These sometimes come with great intensity, but mainly they’re woven into the fabric of everyday life: the frustrations of a long commute, a squabble with a roommate, trying to settle a squirming toddler into a car seat, an unexpected bill, a big push at work, a nagging illness, criticism from a boss, a painful breakup with a partner, sullen silence from a teenager…real life.
Faced with great challenges or a long accumulation of small ones, you may wonder: How hard will this hit me? How soon will I recover? And most important, how can I help myself? Drawing on her many years of experiences as a psychotherapist, meditation teacher, workshops leader, and write, Linda Graham provides many excellent, even life-changing answers to these questions. She explores the intersection of brain science, relational psychology, and mindfulness practices to show us how to recover and develop our natural resilience…
Further, in a rich vein of gold running throughout this book, Linda offers down-to-earth perspectives and dozens of powerful, experiential practices for building up our inner resources. She knows these practices from the inside out, and she offers enthusiastic and creative ways to use them to help us develop new insights, inspirations, and capabilities. These resources – a kind of inner treasure – include greater mindfulness, empathy, self-understanding, self-compassion, security, confidence, interpersonal skills, comfort with the body, reservoirs of positive emotions, calm, courage, and flexibility. These help a person deal with life adaptively – to bend but not break, and then, as Linda puts it, to bounce back. In a word, they help a person become more resilient…
Linda Graham has seen up close what builds resilience and what tears it down. In language that is heartfelt, often lyrical, and always practical, and with a comprehensive approach to mind, body, heart, and spirit, she has distilled a lifetime of clinical practice and deep reflection into an eminently useful guide. Her work is creative in its groundbreaking integration of ancient contemplative wisdom, relational psychology, and modern neuroscience, and it is eminently useful in its compassionate focus on what will help you here and now.
Resilience is like the keel of a sailboat. As the winds of life blow, resilience keeps you balanced and moving forward. And when the really big squalls come – no life is without them – resilience lets you right your boat as soon as possible. Using the knowledge you gain from this book, you’ll be able to chart your course with confidence across the great seas of this precious life.
- Rick Hanson, PhD
From the Introduction to Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being by Linda Graham:
We are all called upon to cope with hiccups and hurricanes in our lives – losing our wallet and car keys, discovering mold in the bathroom, missing three days at the office to care for a sick child – and we do. We are resilient heroes in our own lives every day as we skillfully navigate the disruptive, unwanted changes of the washing machine going on the fritz or the car needing a new transmission.
Occasionally we have to respond with grace under pressure to greater troubles and tragedies: infertility or infidelity, a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, losing a job, a son wounded in combat overseas. Sometimes too many things go disastrously wrong all at once: a daughter arrested for selling pot a laptop left on a plane, finding out that the contractor repairing our roof is being sued for shoddy construction work, all in the same week we’re placing an aging parent in a nursing home. We begin to feel like we’re drinking from a fire hose and about to go under.
Most of feel internally stressed out by some external stressor every single day. Few of us will get through an entire lifetime without our resilience being seriously challenged by the pain and suffering inherent in the human condition. None of us is immune to being asked to cope with what we never asked for, with what we deeply, deeply do not want.
The way we can respond with skill to such unwelcome challenges is through resilience. Resilience is the capacity to respond to pressures and tragedies quickly, adaptively, and effectively. Researchers have found that there’s no single best or infallible way to cope with difficulties. Being able to adapt our coping to a specific challenge is the skill that allows us to find our footing when we’re thrown off balance by the unknown, by stress, or by trauma. Responding flexibility can carry us through the ups and downs of our days. In the words of my yoga teacher, Debra McKnight-Higgins, “Blessed are they who are flexible, for they shall never be bent out of shape.”
We now know from the latest advances in neuroscience, that capacities for resilience are innate in the brain, hard-wired in by evolution. How well these capacities develop as we mature depends on our responses to our life experiences and how those experiences shape the neural circuitry and functioning of our brains – which in turn influence our responses. Whether we tend to bounce back from terrible setbacks or stay where we’ve been thrown depends on our learned patterns of response to other people and events. These patterns become fixed, not just incorporated into a behavioral repertoire but deeply encoded into our neural circuitry from an early age. They shape not only the ways we cope with challenges but also the functioning of the brain itself.
Only in recent years have neuroscientists begun to understand how to harness the brain’s capacities to radically rewire these neural circuits and rebuild the functioning of the brain to increase resilience. Science doesn’t have all the answers yet. The technology that can look inside the “black box” of the brain and observe its functioning in real time, as it creates music, reacts to scenes of combat, or grieves over the death of a beloved pet, is a mere two decades old. The application of the finding s of neuroscience to behavior in real time, as people cope with losing a job or flunking out of school, is even more recent….
However, it is abundantly clear that we can learn to bounce back better by consciously rewiring our bran’s learned patterns of coping. To do that most successful and efficiently, we must know how to select the new experiences that will best do that rewiring. In the words of the leading neuroscientist Richard Davidson, “Based upon everything we know about the brain in neuroscience, change is not only possible, but is actually the rule rather than the exception. It’s really just a question of which influences we’re going to choose for our brain.”
…In my twenty years of clinical practice, over and over again I have seen people rewire their own brains, making lasting changes for the better in their capacities to respond to the storms and struggles of their lives. The well-researched tools and techniques presented here have been further refined by my own long-time practice and teaching of meditation, my personal journey through the ups and downs of life, and my study of the neuroscience of human development and self-transformation, all of which help guide me in suggesting which tools work well and why.
Many current models of self-help and persona growth and many modalities of coaching and therapy presume that individuals already have resilient brain function. Bouncing Back takes the time and practice to develop or rebuild that functioning….As you reflect on the learning your brain is encoding from each experiential exercise, you will notice that you are rewiring your brain as you go along. As you learn to rewire your brain from the level of the neurons up, you wil experience the joy of recovering a resilience that will last a lifetime.