Resilience in the Context of Global Happiness

Building an optimistic and collective vision of resilience based on the prospect of global happiness, carried out in compliance with the SDGs


By putting emphasis on a more collective view, we can then also establish a link with social welfare, which involves the prospect of GLOBAL HAPPINESS: Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

Written by Dr. Eugenio Saavedra Guajardo and Dr. Ana Castro Ríos, external collaborators for Dianova Chile for International Day of Happiness (March 20th).

Since term Resilience appeared in the 1980’s, the concept has been used in the field of Social Sciences and Education with various focal points and elements found within its definition.

Currently, there are more than thirty different definitions, which belong to various authors from different traditions, some of which have more deterministic tendencies based on an individual’s biology, and others more environmentalist tendencies, which highlight the interaction between an individual and their environment.

Among the best-known definitions, the following stand out:

  • Resilience as a phenomenon exhibited by individuals who have evolved favourably, despite having suffered some form of stress or serious risk in the past. (Rutter, 1993).
  • Resilience is a universal capacity which allows a person, group or community to prevent, minimise, or overcome the damaging effects of adversity (Grotberg, 1995).
  • It is a dynamic process which results in positive adaptation in contexts of great adversity (Luthard, 2001).
  • Being resilient means that in addition to recovering, an individual is able to grow from an experience. It means projecting yourself without denying the past (Vanistendael, 2002).
  • The act of being resilient consists of recovering, moving forward after an illness, trauma, or stress. It’s overcoming trying times and crises in life, resisting and getting over them, in order to keep living the best life possible (Manciaux, 2005).


We could continue listing definitions and extrapolating on the distinctions made by each author, but we believe that what may be useful is to see the similarities between each proposed definition and which elements they share, namely:

  • All of these definitions recognise that it is more or less a universal human ability.
  • The idea of stress, adversity, or a negative situation is present in all of the definitions.
  • They share the idea that the subject confronts some type of adversity.
  • The result is a positive adaptation which provides a greater sense of
  • wellbeing in the individual.


Perhaps is it worth emphasising that there are two different elements when conceptualising resilience that are somewhat reflected in these definitions:

  • The first element emphasises the search for protective or risk factors, which would facilitate or hinder the emergence of resilient behaviours. Such a tradition was maintained by authors up to the first half of the 1990’s.
  • The second element is that which the concept of resilience is linked to the identification of dynamic mechanisms and processes that the individual builds as a form of viable adaptation when faced with an adverse situation, and the idea of protecting oneself from said adversity.


Understanding the phenomena in this way suggests to us that resilience, beyond being a permanent condition depending on factors external to the individual, is its own construction. This varies according to the contexts and moments in which it occurs (Saavedra, 2003).

Ultimately, whether one considers themself resilient or not is an internal evaluation of their life.

It is exactly this second idea which will offer a more constructive and optimistic view of resilience, allowing a more dynamic and collective understanding of this concept.

By putting emphasis on this more collective view, we can then also establish a link with social welfare, which involves the prospect of GLOBAL HAPPINESS. Much like some of the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the UN, our point of view is that it requires: dignified work, gender equality, responsible production and consumption, peace, and social justice.