How to Turn Your Life Around
Podcast in the Radio 4 “Seriously” series
What does it take to succeed if you are born into poverty and neglect? Two people who have done just that explore whether it was down to personality, circumstances or plain luck. Why do so few people manage it?
Byron Vincent, a writer and poet, and Dr Anna Woodhouse, a university lecturer and outreach worker, talk to experts to try and discover if their own triumph over lives that were blighted by abuse, drug addiction, homelessness and hunger could have been predicted. They talk to experts about the sort of traits an individual needs to overcome adversity, things like resilience, grit and will power, and discover the latest thinking on what really helps. They explore the way science is looking at the role of genes in determining character. And they look at the importance of outside forces; education, family support, mentors and the role of the Government. At the end, they discuss what they have found with former Welfare Minister and current Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee Frank Field, to see what government can do to help lift individuals out of poverty and get them to turn their lives around.
Producer: Jenny Sneesby.
The Science of Resilience
BBC Radio 4 Podcast
Confucius said “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Some people, however, are just better at getting back up when the most challenging life events knock them down. Today there is a growing body of research into mental resilience; where it comes from, why it matters and how it can be nurtured.
Journalist Sian Williams explores the science of resilience; she meets Dr Michael Pluess from Queen Mary University of London who is testing for the resilience gene, and Professor Toni Bifulco who, along with her colleague Dr David Westley at Middlesex University, has developed an online test for those at risk of resilience failure.
Nobel laureate Professor Daniel Kahneman and science journalist and psychologist Daniel Goleman offer expert insight into resilience. Professor Martin Seligman who founded the Penn Resiliency Program, and David Clark, Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, describe the psychological background to mental strength and how it can be developed. Professor Lord Richard Layard from the LSE explains the economic benefits of building resilience into society. Sian visits Icknield Community College in Watlington in Oxfordshire where resilience is on the curriculum and watches a lesson in which children are taught to bounce back. She meets students, Headmaster Mat Hunter, teacher Claire Foster, and Lucy Bailey and Emma Judge from the resilience-building organisation How To Thrive.
The documentary is informed by Sian’s own MSc research into post-traumatic growth and also from personal testimony: while drafting her thesis for academic publication, she experiences a sudden and very personal trauma which changes her view of resilience.
Producer: Dixi Stewart.
Inclusion here is not intended to be an endorsement. Different approaches help different people and there is a lot of stuff out there that can be useful.